Athlete, Avoid Getting Trapped
1 Timothy 3:7 (NIV)
He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
Do you know the difference between character and reputation?
Character speaks to who we really are, raw and unfiltered. Those who know us best know our character. We pray they like what they see … and love us still when they don’t.
Reputation speaks to a wider circle, to who people believe us to be. It is based on how others experience us from a distance, on what others have observed and heard from afar. Reputation often rises out of rumor and secondhand smoke. It follows us like flypaper.
We can’t fully control reputation but we can control our character. And it sure is worth growing a good character garden. Its fruit lasts long and benefits much. Peace follows too.
Still, reputation counts for something. It is the place in our lives where most people operate and the spot where we most often get ourselves trapped. And once trapped, it’s really hard to recover. That’s why this ancient proverb still gets recited: “Reputation is better kept than recovered.“
[Sidebar: I was late to a Christmas concert 35 years ago with my wife’s family, and no matter how many times I’ve been prompt since then, one member on that side of the family always reminds me of my shortcoming.]
In basketball, traps are inevitable. Just pick up your dribble, especially on a sideline, timeline or baseline, and see what I mean. They come fast, furious and unrelenting. Traps in life inevitably come too. They try to compromise our character and kill our reputation.
Whenever what we say and do don’t jive, the scornful heat of others turns up, and the devil delights. We disqualify ourselves in others’ eyes and are rendered powerless to be taken seriously. Reputation traps set us back and sit us down big time.
Scripture here reminds us that the devil loves to see our reputation get killed as we “fall into disgrace.“ And it challenges us to work hard at having a good reputation, even with outsiders, those out on the perimeter of our lives. God wants us to bring a good wide vibe of what He’s like to others as we follow Him well in good character living. We can’t do this if our reputation keeps getting us trapped. Our culture doesn’t cancel us. We do.
One more thing … Let’s acknowledge that “being real” is no excuse for letting our reputation or our character slip. The traps and disgrace that unwittingly come are never worth it. But “being real” before God and others in humble repentance always rewards.
Reflect: Are you faithfully, daily working on your character and reputation game? Are you painting an authentic, good picture of who you are in social media circles? What adjustment needs your urgent attention today to keep from falling into disgrace?
A prayer to consider: LORD, You see me, know me and care. You define good character so well in Jesus and call me to produce a good reputation before all others. I love the missional standard You set.
Help me by Your Spirit to forge a reputation before others that makes You famous and keeps me from getting trapped. Protect me from without and from within. I don’t want my life compromised by sin, canceled by hypocrisy, fallen in disgrace. I want to live in good hope. Being useful to my King is the longing of my heart. I pray this in the good, strong name of Jesus. Amen.