When Reputation Met Character

By Paula Harrington
It was a cool morning in Jerusalem when they came face to face. One, a ruler, had come to town due to politics; the other, a King, had come out of love.
A son of Herod the Great, Herod Antipas, was worldly, cruel and ambitious. He was rebuked by John the Baptist (Mark 6:18) and called a fox by Jesus (Luke 13:32). Even some of the Jews, whom he sought to cater to (merely to serve his own political aspirations), were leery of him. We must remember that he built the great city Tiberius, named for his friend the Roman Emperor Tiberius, over a Jewish cemetery /1.
Yet one day life brought this Tetrarch of Galilee before the Son of God.
When Herod finally met Jesus he, like many today, desired entertainment not salvation (Luke 23:8). While the Jews, who witnessed this encounter may have been honored to stand before the powerful and well-known monarch, Jesus, a man of perfect character, wouldn’t even speak to him.
Reputation is how the world perceives us whereas character is who we truly are. Too many times Christians have reputations that don’t equal their character. We are devout followers on Sunday morning and maybe even Sunday night, but once Monday rolls around we casually slide into a ‘work week’ Christianity.
We talk as the world talks and act as the world acts, leaving our friends and co-workers dazed and confused when we mention anything spiritual. Our hypocrisy drives others away from God and then we have the audacity to question why the church isn’t growing.
In order to fortify our character, we must be a people of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Note the word perfect isn’t in that list. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect although He does want us to desire perfection as we daily strive to live like his Son.
Our Father understands that we will sin and have times of weakness, trials and discouragement. However, it isn’t the difficult times that define our character. Our character is revealed the moment we stand up, shake the stresses and disappointments of this world off, and begin again to follow him.
As we ponder our relationship with God, let us forget about our worldly reputation and take inventory of our character. For only a good character has the potential to save the lost and change the world.

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1. Josephus Flavius (Antiquities, Book 18 Chapter 2:3).

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