The other day I was thinking about the term “Semper Fidelis” the term and expression that US Marines often say to each other. It means “Always Faithful” and the saying dates back to 1883.
Marines as other service persons are expected to exemplify sound moral behavior. They are to never lie, cheat or steal. They are to be individuals worthy of respect and human dignity. They are expected to treat others with the honor and respect that is drilled into them throughout their service years throughout the remainder of their lives.
The Marines that I’ve talked to believe that “once a Marine-ALWAYS a marine! The expectation is that these moral and noble qualities mentioned above will be their lifetime practice.
WE on the other hand are encouraged to support and pray for our men and women in uniform who are serving these United States. Rightly so! I have great respect for our servicemen and women. But, from time to time I meet some who seem to need a refresher course in honesty and integrity! What, does it mean to be honorable?
Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth. Favor is better than silver and gold.” So, the Bible encourages us to keep good reputations, whenever possible. This idea is echoed in Ecclesiastes 7:1, which says, “A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume” (NLT). The Bible is clear that a good reputation is of great value and is therefore something that we should strive to earn and maintain.
A reputation is built over time as others evaluate our life choices and determine who we are based on how we behave. While we don’t like the idea of being judged, the fact is that we are always “judging” each other as a way of determining who is trustworthy and who is not. Reputations are built on the judgment of others. If we need a neighbor to watch our house while we are gone on a trip, we will most likely choose one with a good reputation. We will not ask the kid down the street who is always in trouble with the law. He does not have a good reputation. But if another neighbor has been honest and friendly and has given us no reason to doubt his character, we will place something of value under his care because his reputation gives us confidence that he can be trusted.
As Christians, our number-one priority is to represent Christ well to this lost and broken world (Acts 1:8). Because Jesus is honest, kind, loyal, and honorable, we should strive to be those things as well (Ephesians 5:1), and all of those qualities contribute to a good reputation. People evaluate the worthiness of our message based on our reputations as people of character. If we have poor reputations, our message is tainted as well. Dishonesty, gossip, and hypocrisy damage our testimonies and do not reflect the character of Jesus. Many will not heed our words when our reputations do not match what we claim to believe.
So what is a good reputation, and how do we maintain it? People with good reputations are those who live with integrity. Their private lives match their public personas. There are no hidden agendas, double lives, or dishonest practices. They live authentically, and, when they sin, they quickly make it right with those they offended (Matthew 5:23–24). They keep their word, treat others respectfully, and accept their responsibilities. They treat their families well, and, because they are consistent, others know what to expect of them. Those with good reputations usually care very much about keeping their reputations intact.
Pastors, especially, are called upon to keep a good reputation in the eyes of the watching world. Among the elder’s qualifications is that “he must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap” (1 Timothy 3:7). It’s not just what believers say about their pastor that counts; it’s what the unsaved are saying, too. Having credibility with those outside the church is an important part of a pastor’s ministry. If he loses his credibility with those he is trying to reach with the gospel, then he brings reproach upon his office, his message, and his Lord. The world needs to see pastors and people at large who are honorable, upright, self-controlled, and real.
Will you make a commitment to live a godly life and be real today?