A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich;
a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Pr 22:1). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
The King James Version renders that verse…
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches,
And loving favour rather than silver and gold.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Pr 22). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Maybe you’ve heard the old saying “your reputation precedes you.” This phrase is usually spoken when you meet someone, and their reputation is either so good or so bad that you feel as if you already know them. The reality is that you judged them before you ever met them. Now that you are meeting them, every action, thought and word is being filtered through the reputation that you had previously heard.
Early on in my life my parents instilled in me a sense of pride about our family. I understood that my actions, whether good or bad, were a direct reflection on my family. My parents raised me to not only respect myself, but to also respect my family. We were trained to live our lives in such a way that we would never bring shame to our family. I knew then, and I still know today, that I live not just for myself, but I also represent my family. Now that I am a married man with kids of my own, I represent so much more now than I did then. We walked with a respect for each other, for our family name. I was a McKinnies. With that name came responsibility. When I went to school I knew not to disrupt, or cause trouble, because when I came home dad was not going to side with me. Now, before you start judging my parents as harsh or mean, let me explain. I cannot remember a time when my parents disciplined me physically. I do know that I would have much rather been disciplined physically, than to have speak with my dad. I told my dad one night, “I wish you would just hit me, rather than talk to me.” I knew that I had let him down and he just kept talking. I was filled with so much guilt; not that I had been caught, but because my dad had to stay up and wait for me. I had let him down. I had failed in upholding the expectations he had set for me.
Early on in my life, I learned that if I made my dad proud, then I would be a success in this life. We were taught to have a strong work ethic. If we were going to do something, then not should we do it, but we should give it all we had! We were taught respect. As a kid when I would spend time with my friends and their families. My parents would instruct me, “Jason, you say yes ma’am and no ma’am, yes sir and no sir.” And then just before they turned to walk away, one final reminder, “Jason, you mind your manners.” Why would they do that? Because my behavior when I was with my friends and their families, was a direct reflection on them. I represented them, so I was instructed on how to behave, function and operate in a manner that would be pleasing to my family.
As I grew older, it wasn’t so much about manners as it was integrity, trust and faithfulness. Consistently, I was reminded to never let my good be spoken evil of, and I needed to keep myself from the very appearances of evil. These were just a few of the reminders on how to be a good person. All of this was the measure my parents took to ensure that when my reputation preceded me, it would be good. That upon meeting someone, I would not have to have my life filtered through innuendos, rumors, etc. They were protecting my name as much as they were protecting their name.
I enjoy history very much. I was excited when I came across this story about Alexander the Great.
Alexander the Great reviewed his troops one day, and one of his soldiers slouched a bit.
“What’s your problem?” Alexander asked him.
The soldier explained that he had been out on the town the night before.
“What’s your name?” Alexander asked.
“Alexander,” the soldier answered.
The general said, “Either change your conduct or change your name.”
When I entered the corporate world, the company I worked for reinforced the principles that I was raised with. Consistently we were reminded that we were in the image business. Your conduct, as a partner in this company, is not only a direct reflection of your character, but also a reflection of our company. Therefore, they established three questions we were to ask ourselves when we were in doubt. These were the three primary guidelines we were to abide by in regards to our integrity.
1. Is what I am doing moral, ethical and legal?
2. Would I want what I am doing to be published in the newspaper?
3. How would I feel, if my family were to find out?
What were they doing as a company? Protecting their name, and I was the representative.
Now that I am the Senior Pastor of the Worship Center, I think about those guidelines nearly every day! I now represent so much more than a corporation. I represent each of you. I have a responsibility to protect the Name that we carry, the Name that I preach, the Name that I wholeheartedly believe is the answer for the world. The Name of Jesus!
By protecting my name, I in turn, protect His Name!
The Verbs #21 (Be Honest)
A lying witness is unconvincing; a person who speaks truth is respected.”
Proverbs 21:28 MSG
To protect the guilty, a few identities in this devotional have been changed.
Maybe you have encountered a person, or maybe more than one, like what I’m about to describe. This is the person that is only telling the truth when their mouth is closed. Quite literally, I have watched people lie about lying. Everything that is stated, typed or conveyed by this person must be sorted through a filter. You’re not sure what is truth and what is a lie. It is hard to have emotion about much of what this person is saying to you. I have encountered more than my share of people that are unconvincing. Once you’ve lied to my face, I go to one of the unlisted gifts of the spirit. The gift of suspicion, which means everything that person tells me, or that I hear from them, is suspect. It is false until proven otherwise. That is a sad state, because what happens if they are telling the truth.
“Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.”
Proverbs 21:23 MSG
Truly, one of the main themes of Proverbs is literally one of the old adages that our parents would tell us as kids. God gave you two ears and one mouth. Listen more and talk less. I could also add that our mouth was designed and created by God with the ability to be closed, our ears were not. The book of Proverbs is reminding us that if we listen more and talk less, we bring peace into our lives; however, if we talk more than we listen, we often bring more trouble into our lives.
We are going to speak, but when we speak it should be with honesty. The scripture states that a person who speaks truth is respected! I may not enjoy, or like what a person is telling me, but I’d much rather have them tell me the truth. I may not like it but I will respect it. But I also believe when we speak truth, we should do it in love. Especially when using the Word of God to state that truth! The word of God is a sharp sword. Using anything as powerful as God’s word without love will destroy a person. Many people have weaponized the word of God. The purpose of the sword of the word is to cut away things that are harmful to us. That is love.
If you were in a burning car, strapped to a seat, unable to free yourself from the carnage and flames, I would use a knife to cut away what was keeping you in danger, so that you could free yourself or I could pull you through to safety. I may not know you, but I am operating out of love for you.
Truth does the same thing. Jesus declared that He was the way, the truth and the life. He has come to cut away the things that are endangering us, so that we can be free. Truth will set you free. We are the ones that God uses to introduce people to truth, so we need to make sure that we represent Him well. Introduce Him in love, but speak truth. We use the sword, the Word of God, to cut away things in our lives that have kept us trapped, locked up and hindered.
A beautiful thing about truth is that it never changes, it remains constant. It never runs with the crowds, is never exaggerated, and it is never a different version based on who you are. It is just truth.
I never want my testimony, or my experience with truth, to ever be suspect because my life, my mind or my story has changed for the worse! I want my words and my life to be respected, so I must operate truthfully.
In the King James Version, Proverbs 21:28 says, “A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly.”
It doesn’t mean that He speaks constantly but rather consistently.
Let us be consistent in speaking truth in a lovingly manner!
11 Smart people know how to hold their tongue; their grandeur is to forgive and forget.
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Pr 19:11). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
In 2013 Disney released an animated film titled “Frozen”. In the film, Princess Elsa of Arendelle possesses a uniqueness. In the beginning, this gift is used to create moments of enjoyment with her younger sister Anna. One day while playing, Elsa accidentally injures Anna. Their parents, the King and Queen, rush both siblings to a colony of trolls where Anna is “healed”, but her memories were also altered to remove traces of Elsa’s unique gift. Elsa is warned to learn to control the gift that is in her. The King and Queen isolate both sisters within the castle. Elsa shuts out Anna, causing a rift between them. The rift continues as isolation has caused insecurities. Each time there is an issue or a conflict, it is ratcheted up by the distrust caused by the shutting out of Elsa to Anna. The Film has a song that really catches the theme of the movie. That song became one of the top songs of the year, winning multiple awards. It was the feelings of one who made a mistake, who hurt someone unintentionally. Yet, was isolated and restricted, from being around the ones that she loved. So, once she was outside of the restrictions she begins to “Let it Go”! Why couldn’t there had just been a conversation between all of them, then and there about truth of the matter? Healing would have happened and relationships would have never been hindered. So often we try to cover up, instead of opening up.
In life, mistakes are made, and hurt is brought on. More often than not, the hurt is unintentional. Words are spoken in the heat of the moment, actions are taken without thought of the repercussions. People’s futures are forever changed by a moment. That moment is now dictating, relationships, positions and even finances. It all started as an innocent mistake, now it is led to a complete separation of relationships. I have witnessed so many families, businesses, and marital relationships destroyed over the failure to “let things go”! To just open up and say, “I’m sorry, I hurt you, how can I make it right?”
We as people somehow believe that by letting something go, that we are placing our approval on the event. Forgiveness isn’t making an excuse for the behavior, forgiveness is actually protecting you from becoming destroyed by harboring feelings towards that individual for a mistake. Intentional or unintentional it was a mistake, and as the Proverb tells us, smart people know how to hold their tongue, and your grandeur is to forgive and forget. In other words, let it go. It is often easier to say I’m sorry, than it is to say I forgive you!
Forgiveness actually has more to do with you than the other person. Take a look at what Jesus stated about this…
“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Mt 6:14–15). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
See forgiveness has so much more to do with me than them. By forgiving I prove that I’m not weak, rather I am strong. I am strong enough to understand that people do make mistakes. I am also smart enough to know that I am not perfect, and I desperately need forgiveness. I will not get forgiveness without offering it to others. Sometimes you’ll need to accept an apology that you never actually get, and just forgive them without it. It’s more about you than them anyway.
The King James Version of the bible renders Proverbs 19:11 like this
11 The discretion of a man deferreth his anger;
And it is his glory to pass over a transgression
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Pr 19:11). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
It is your glory to pass over a transgression. While reading that scripture, my mind is captured by the phrase “pass over”! This phrase is a huge phrase in the bible. It’s beginning is during the plagues placed upon the people of Egypt. The last plague was the “death angel”. The angel was instructed to visit the land of Egypt and any home that didn’t have the blood applied, death would come upon the first born of that home. However, if the blood was applied to the home, then the death angel would “pass over” that home and spare that family from death. (Exodus 12) The blood is what covers our mistakes, transgressions, or sins. When we ask for forgiveness then the blood is applied to our lives.
Every time that there is an offense in our lives, or someone hurts us, we have a choice. We can either “pass over” it and spare the individual, or we can bring death to the relationship. Which will you do?
There are many relationships in my life that I value, more than I value the need to be “right” in order to keep those relationships, I just need to “pass over” some things, hold my tongue (or my fingers), and realize that God WILL and HAS dealt with all of it already!
Someone said that forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free, only to realize that you were the prisoner! Set yourself free, by offering forgiveness!
10 God’s name is a place of protection—
good people can run there and be safe.
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Pr 18:10). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
I absolutely love this scripture. Allow me to explain why I love this text. The New King James renders this verse…
10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.
The New King James Version. (1982). (Pr 18:10). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Someone once said, the sweetest sound in any language is the sound of one’s own name. If you’re walking down the street and someone calls your name, you stop dead in your tracks. That person has an immediate effect on you simply because he or she knows your name.
It is amazing to me that God knows my name. Not only does God know our names, but Isaiah 49:16 tells us they are engraved on the palms of His hands. Can you imagine walking down the road, your head hung low, thinking everyone has forgotten about you? Then suddenly, you hear your name. And the one that you meet face-to-face, eye-to-eye, the one who knows your name, is Jesus. Whether you know it or not, He does call your name. He does know your name. The sweetest sound you’ll ever hear, is when Jesus calls your name. I think about Lazarus. Lazarus was dead; yet when Jesus called His name, death couldn’t prevent him from hearing his name being called. I do believe that was the sweetest sound Lazarus ever heard.
You should be encouraged, because there is nothing that can stop you from hearing when Jesus calls your name! It will be the sweetest sound that you have ever heard! I believe, that as much as it means to us when we hear our name, it means something to God when we call on Him. Anytime that you are in trouble, just call on the Name of the Lord! When you call, He becomes a strong tower that you can run into and be safe!