We tend to remember people for who they are or were. Sometimes we remember people for what they said, how they lived. But sometimes the reputation of a person can be deceptive, undeserved, or completely wrong.
Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus, I believe, has an undeserved reputation. Thomas is often referred to as “Doubting Thomas.” Why? We pick up the story already in progress to learn how Thomas received his reputation; “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, we have seen the Lord! But he (Thomas) said to them, Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:24-25).
The next time Jesus appeared to the disciples, Thomas experienced the proof that Jesus was alive; “After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said Peace be with you. Then He said to Thomas, reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put It into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord, and my God! (John 20:26-27). Thomas simply wanted proof that Jesus resurrected and for this he is known as “Doubting Thomas.”
There are others in the Bible with reputations.
Moses, had to deal with the fact that he killed a man out of anger and revenge. Studying the life story of Moses is fascinating and helps me understand how God deals with me.
The apostle Paul had the reputation of persecuting the Jews who followed Jesus Christ. It was on the road to Damascus (Acts chapter 9) that God dealt with Pauls’ prideful and arrogant reputation.
Samson earned his reputation as a womanizer and filled with pride. It is fortunate that God goes to such lengths to correct us as He did with Samson (Judges 13-16). Correction brings us back to Christ.
Reputations take a lifetime to make and often can be destroyed by one mistake, decision, one grasp of pleasure, power, and prestige.
President Richard M. Nixon is forever known for the Watergate Hotel Burglary. But he had nothing to do with the initial break in. What brought the Nixon presidency to end in disgrace was the coverup, the deception after the fact. President Nixon will forever be known for the Watergate conspiracy instead of getting the U.S. out of Vietnam and establishing relations with China.
Alfred Nobel is known for creating and funding the Nobel Peace Prize – but do you know he made his fame and great fortune by inventing and manufacturing nitroglycerin and dynamite. Nobel left most of his fortune to fund physics, chemistry, medicine or physiology, literature, and peace after he read a premature obituary about himself. Nobel changed his reputation from that of producing death and destruction to that of pursuing peace.
Not surprisingly, the Bible has much to say about ones’ reputation.
Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.” This principle is echoed in Ecclesiastes 7:1, which says, “A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume.”
The Bible is clear that a good reputation is of great value and is therefore something we should strive to earn and maintain. In all I do, I want to represent Christ well to others, but not all I do represents Christ well. I blame only myself, but Christ knows.
When you fall and your reputation is ruined there are two things one can do to recover.
First, ask God and others to forgive you. Take responsibility for your actions and forgive yourself.
Second, read your Bible. Particularly the Old Testament. Study those who destroyed their reputations and how God revived their lives, restored their self-esteem, and learned to lean on God for their lives.
How is your reputation?