"Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour” (Ecclesiastes 10:1 KJV)
It’s easy to lose your reputation. One moment of indiscretion can undo years of building a good reputation. Consider the proverb above. Dead flies will ruin a container of expensive perfume by putrefying it with a foul odor. Likewise, a little foolishness or indiscretion can ruin a person who has an established reputation for wisdom and integrity.
Nothing will ruin the reputation of a Christian faster or more permanently than a deliberate breech of ethical integrity or moral conduct. People will overlook almost any offense – but moral & ethical violations carry a stigma that is almost impossible to rise above.
One stain on a beautiful painting is all that you see.
It’s nearly impossible to do something or say something without a significant number of people knowing about it, hearing about it, and having an opinion about it before the sun goes down. Whether you like it or not people are watching your life and judge you by your actions. This is reality. You only get one reputation. You’d better guard it well.
Your sins affect others too. Unless you live on an island by yourself in the middle of the
Pacific Ocean, your sins have consequences upon other people. Think of your family, friends, and fellow church members who you have contact with. Whatever sins your commit spills over into their lives. “No man is an island” and no man sins unto himself either. That means those around you can be hurt by the choices and actions you make.
If your folly and sin is committed in darkness, it will eventually be brought into the light. The Bible warns us… Be sure your sins will find you out (Numbers 32:23). Think Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is a contemporary example of this truth. Exposure may come sooner or it may come later, but it comes. Jesus said, “There is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed and brought out into the open” (Luke 8:17). Can you honestly say that there is no one that would be affected by your secret sins if they should become known?
This doesn’t mean that we have to live our lives only for the approval of others, because you could be easily manipulated that way. However, as Christians it does mean that we are supposed to seek the approval of God by living godly lives and maintaining a good testimony. And by default, such a lifestyle will win the approval of others.
The standards of behavior for God’s people are supposed to surpass even the highest principles of normal human ethics. This was one of the main points of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: “I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).
It is essential that we maintain our Christian testimony:
- Proverbs 25:26… Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.
- Philippians 1:27… Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
There is a difference between your reputation and your testimony. Your reputation reflects what others say about you. Your testimony is what your lifestyle says about God. In other words, if someone calls himself a Christian but does not live godly, he is in fact taking God’s name in vain.
Prioritize the importance of a good reputation. You only get one.