Friday, May 25, 2012

Reputable Fame

LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. (Habakkuk 3:2a NIV)

Reputation Precedes
When someone says our reputation precedes us, we know that person has heard about us and what we have done or achieved prior to meeting us. In a sense, it means we have earned ourselves a certain amount of fame—good or bad. If we are known for being charitable, we are doing fine, unless all our works are done in pretense, just for hype. If we, on the other hand, have a reputation for doing the exact opposite of what is right, then we are in a sad state, more often than not acquainted with dishonor. Beyond these two opposites is a third outcome of fame which is seemingly undesirable, yet absolutely necessary. This is the earned reputation for doing the right thing and suffering for doing it.

The apostle Paul said, “I have ... been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked … I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked” (2 Corinthians 11:23-28 NIV).

Paul did the right thing and suffered much for the gospel of Christ. His reputation preceded him—both good and bad—and his imprisonment encouraged many to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly (Acts 9:13-14, 20-21, 26-27; Philippians 1:14). The controversy concerning his total change after his conversion made news, and for that he had many opportunities to share his testimony (Acts 22:2-16; 26:12-18). God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them (Acts 19:11-12). Famed for contributing a large part of the writings in the New Testament, Paul was reputed for having led many to the Lord.

What about us? Who do people and the crowd say we are? Are we reputed for doing the right or wrong things? Are our good works publicity stunts to gain popularity and praise from men or are we genuinely interested in helping the needy? Are our actions and testimony bringing glory to or defaming the name of the Lord? Is fame and face more important to us than obeying God? Where do we stand if we know we are to suffer disrepute or be disadvantaged doing what is right?

Let us choose to bring glory to God in every of our actions rather than to ourselves, and let the fame of our God be exceedingly great (Colossians 3:17). If we are famous or desire fame, let us not boast of ourselves but of God (Jeremiah 9:23-24; 2 Corinthians 10:13). Like Habakkuk the prophet, let us say of the LORD, we have heard of Your fame; we stand in awe of Your deeds, O LORD (Habakkuk 3:2a).

Dear Lord, forgive us for the times we place our reputation above all else, just for the sake of face or popularity votes. Help us Lord not to be too proud of ourselves or do things purely for the reason of hype. Set right our hearts O Lord to genuinely desire to help others and to be charitable for the right reasons; not for fame or for the praise of men. Grant us a spirit of humility Lord that we may not envy or be upset even if we do not become famous, reputed, or receive the recognition we deserve for the good we have done. You alone deserve all glory and fame O God, and we stand in awe of Your deeds.

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