Day 21: Reputation

Paper Tigers & Impressing God

A Write 31 Days Series

I have a really bad habit that I am trying to break.  My bad habit is caring what others think of me.

This sentence from The Message version of the Bible is the pivotal sentence that began this series.

My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God.
— Galatians 2:20 The Message

How much of my life has been spent trying to have the good opinion of others?  Almost all of it.  I wanted my mom, dad, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins’ good opinions.  I wanted teachers’ good opinions.  I wanted friends’ good opinions.  I wanted pastors’ and youth pastors’ good opinions.  I wanted college professors’ good opinions.

If I am honest it was the most important thing to me growing up.

As a young mom, I would do anything to have the good opinion of other moms I met in our home school play and learning groups.

I had a tendency to have conversations that were just back and forth agreements of something we both thought was good or bad.

“We don’t let the kids watch THAT show either.”

“Oh, I would never give my kids that to eat either.”

“Yes.  We do that too.”

I wanted their good opinion, and I didn’t realize how much I was making my acceptable behavior become my focus.

My ego, or my sense of self-worth, was wrapped up in how good I could appear.  If it sounded like I had done something my friends might not approve of, I was sure to throw disclaimers and corrections around like I was afraid of losing an important job.

“Oh.  We didn’t KNOW it was going to have all that cursing in it when we watched it.  I wouldn’t watch it again.”

“We did this, but we didn’t do THAT.”

When I was getting my self-worth from my behavior, I was negating what Jesus did to bring me the best self-worth ever, righteousness through the grace of God.  Being right with God is the best self-worth, and Jesus died to give it to me.

So whenever some shade of “unacceptable in some people’s eyes” or iffy behavior gets thrown my way, I no longer duck and run for cover under my disclaimers and corrections.

It isn’t about me.

It is about Jesus and what He has done.

Let people think whatever they would like about me.  What is important to me is that they have a correct view of Jesus.  Am I working as hard to make sure everyone I encounter knows who Jesus truly is?

Living a life that is worried most about appearing good and following rules can actually do huge detriment to your relationship with Christ.

I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.
— Galatians 5:4-6 The Message

God knows our failings, our actual failings, not just perceived missteps.  When we live a life trying to obey “fence laws” and not worried about our real relationship with Christ, we can lose sight of His grace and mercy.  We can slowly lose our grip on faith, as we hold so strongly onto our reputation.  We can lose sight of loving others, as we practice judging ourselves and others by actions and perceived actions.

Actually trying not to sin and obeying God are two things we should do as Christians.  Those things are a big part of your one-on-one relationship with God.  You take those things to Him in daily prayer, knowing that we have already been made right with God, then that relationship will be more satisfying than any earthly relationship could be.

Give up trying to gain approval from others.

Live in the freedom and self-worth that Christ offers.


Click to return to series table of contents.

I like to include a song with each blog post.  I wanted to include a certain Joan Jett song here, but I'll be nice.  This song actually is really fitting.  Trying hard is just like a black hole.