As we continue our study of the book of Daniel, we stop for a moment to look at how God used his reputation. Our reputations are important to God, too. This sermon highlights examples of how God uses those with a good reputation, and how we can work with God to develop and keep a good name.
Once upon a time, there was a very anti-Christian man. God finally got a hold of him, but Christians were hesitant. But there was a man with a good reputation that God used to bring him into the church. That anti-Christian man was Paul, writer of much of the New Testament. The man chosen to bring him into the church was Ananias, chosen because of his reputation. (Acts 22:12-13 “Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him.)
How do you feel about what other people think about you?
In looking at Daniel, we see how his reputation was important: Daniel 4:18, 5:12 and 6:3 “This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you…Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation…Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.”
In the early church (Acts 6), deacons were chosen because of their reputation. Then in Acts 10, Cornelius was sent to Peter to help break open the church to the Gentiles. When Paul chose Timothy in Acts 16, it was partly because of his good name. And when Paul encouraged Timothy as he was raising up churches, Paul made sure that Timothy considered the leaders’ reputations (I Timothy 3).
What does God have to say about reputation: Proverbs 22:18 “For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; let them all be fixed upon your lips” – better than money!
Can we believe that? Is anything better to us Americans than lots of money? God says this is!
For the less materialistic among us, here is what else God says…
Better than ointment: Ecclesiastes 7:1 “A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.”
We each have a reputation now. And we will leave a legacy in the future.
Think about it – you trust some people, and don’t trust others, right? You know you can lean on this person and not on that one, right? You know you can say something private to someone, and know they won’t spread it around, and then there are others, right?
Do we each know what our reputation is? Is our name in good standing with those around you? Ask someone who’ll be honest.
How do we go about building a good reputation? It’s a combination of a blessing from God and what we do.
Look at Ruth in the Old Testament. She was a Moabite widow, a low position; it was about as low a position you could have in Israel. She was a widow – also low on the totem pole.
Ruth 2:11-12 “And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” Ruth made choices to follow the one true God, she gave up idolatry, and she worked to honor her mother-in-law when it wasn’t easy. Her reputation wasn’t built on one thing, but was built step-by-step, and it was based on her relationship with God and her relationships with and actions toward people. That got Boaz’s attention and led to blessing.
Love God first and your neighbor as yourself. Most of us can spend the rest of our lives on these things.
Reasons why we’d want to gain or regain a good name:
“Lack of character won’t remove your gifts, but it certainly may remove the opportunities to release your gifts.” Chris DuPré
“God opens opportunities for those who have built a good name.” Chris’s brother
We are His ambassadors. (II Corinthians 5:20 “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”) Since we are, we work to give no offense because we want people to see Jesus when they look at us (II Corinthians 6:3 “We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed.”).
Questions to ourselves:
You have a reputation now. If you’re human, that reputation is a mixed bag. But deep down, we all want to be used by God and we want others to see Jesus in us. Remember, it’s a combination of our relationship with God, our love and actions toward others, and what God can do. Ask the Lord to lead you to have a good, or better, name!