Reputation is defined as beliefs and opinions (often external) that are held over someone as perceived over time. Every person has a reputation—some good, some great and others greatly shocking.
Reputation has value to it. Often, its value can be perceived as more than what it's really worth. When we start to protect our reputation over things that are more valuable, we get our priorities mixed up, which almost always leads to a deceptive idolatry.
Here are some of the things we say showing how we've mixed up our priorities:
• "It's better for people to think that I make more than I actually do."
• "People don't need to know I'm a Christian."
• "I should go with the flow, or my reputation will be ruined."
While we are to preserve and protect our reputation, there is something that it must never overtake in value — our faith.
Here are four reasons why faith is always more valuable than reputation.
1. God's grace pays the bills, not reputation
One of the most prevalent reasons why a believer might value reputation more than faith is because it seems more economical. Playing politics, covering up failures and mistakes, and exaggerating results all seem to be more practical because they promise to pay the bills.
But God is the one who pays the bills and gives us everything we need, not reputation. James 1:17 says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."
2. Reputation is relative; God's faithfulness is not
No matter how hard you try to protect your reputation, there will always be people whose opinion you cannot control. But God's faithfulness towards us will always work to our advantage if only we choose to embrace it.
We can try to perform for an audience of multitudes or for an audience of one. Here's a comforting thought: God is much simpler to please than other people.
3. Faith pleases God, not reputation
Hebrews 11:6 says, "And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."
Pleasing God by faith is much simpler than protecting your reputation. It's not easy, but it's simpler: We are asked only to trust in His capability and His strength, believing that He can and will protect more than just our reputation.
4. Faith stands the test of trials when reputation is simply broken by it
Remember that story built on rock? Faith is that rock, and Jesus is the object of our faith. Reputation is quicksand. We sink into it easily and never get an easy foothold. Ever.
The best part about faith is that in the end, it refines us and makes us better, thus creating a better reputation for ourselves..
The more we chase after reputation on its own, the easier it slips away. We were meant to build God's reputation first (not that He needs us to, but He simply invites us to participate), and He will build ours.