Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.
~ John Wooden
USA culture used to be based on a man or woman's word, and a handshake as a firm promise in business or personal life. In a BBC article, all kinds of factors were cited decrying the demise of the United States as a nation that other countries admired. There was banking failure, overspending and military interference, and all the usual hot buttons pressed by international peers.
But I was struck more by the positive things that made this nation great. A belief in opportunity, the value of the person next door as a friend and brother, and legal and moral systems built on Judao-Christian faiths. As those eroded through moral devaluation, corruption, political maneuvering, and wealth disbursement back to the rich, new values emerged: "free" love, looking out for #1, and the one with the most toys wins, among others. Others lost their respect for us as we became selfish and self-centered.
Christians build character by looking always to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We compare ourselves to him, not to the world around us. It's hard to stay focused in a materialistic world, where getting brings more prestige than being.
But we stand out among our friends and acquaintances with good reputations, not by being slightly better than others, but by being different. Honest. Kind. Loving. Even when telling the truth is to our detriment. Or when kindness costs us ease. Or when love demands sacrifice. In other words, our reputation must be built on sound character.
That's the kind of reputation I'm interested in having. How about you?
*And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there nor will any ferocious beast get up on it they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the LORD will return.They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:8-10 NIV
*Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2 NIV