With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel. 2 Corinthians 8:18
While floundering in my addiction, I spent an excessive amount of time worrying about what others thought of me. I desperately wanted to keep my drug use hidden and I grew paranoid as every glance from others seemed to suggest they knew my dark secret. Then, my worst fears were realized as my addiction became public information and my name was in the paper. That hurt. It was incredibly shameful to know that everyone knew the worst things about me.
At that point, my reputation was like stained clothing that I couldn’t remove. I felt constantly aware of what others must be thinking about me and I dreaded going out in public. I went to the grocery store during off hours, and I snuck into church late, leaving early, avoiding crowds. No one confronted me, but they didn’t have to. Everyone knew and I knew that they knew. I had a bad reputation.
In preparing today’s blog, I realized that it’s been seven years this week since my life fell apart and seven years since I began to earnestly pursue recovery. In recovery, I now spend very little time worrying about what others think of me. I guess I honestly don’t know what my reputation is, but I’m also not overly concerned about it. It can’t be as bad as it was seven years ago. Today’s passage though, got me thinking about reputation again. What is it that others would say about me if you asked?
In today’s passage, Paul spoke of a brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel. He didn’t mention a name, but it’s implied that the Corinthians knew who Paul was talking about. Whoever this mystery man was, he had a sterling reputation among Paul’s audience, known for doing what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man (2 Corinthians 8:21).
When I’m honest about it, there’s always a part of me that doesn’t want to be known as a religious nut. When given the choice though, I’d much rather be known for relentlessly pursuing my faith and recovery than for being an addict.
It may not be this radical of a difference for all of us, but we’ve all got some reputation. Do others know us as living only for ourselves? Or do they know us as people who love God and those around us? We’ve all got some reputation, good or bad. Fortunately, we daily have the choice to make it what God wants it to be.