In the first part of this meditation/devotional (found here), we looked at the reputations we try to keep, and how we tend to use them as a way to rely on the love of others rather than the love of God.
Here’s the other half of that: We not only play this game with others, but we try to play this game with God, too. We not only want to be remembered by God, but have the audacity to think we deserve being rewarded for the good things we’ve done. To be sure, Scripture says that God rewards the faithful. The problem comes when we put the focus on doing good—and making very sure others, including God, know it (as if He didn’t)—rather than seeking our joy in what is good. When we seek to be recognized for our good behavior, Jesus says, we already have our reward (see Matthew 6:1-16), and shouldn’t expect anything more than the massaged egos we already have. The Apostle Paul got this:
“In my zeal for God I persecuted the church. According to the righteousness stipulated in the law I was blameless. But these assets I have come to regard as liabilities because of Christ. More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things—indeed, I regard them as dung!—that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness—a righteousness from God that is in factbased on Christ’s faithfulness.My aim is to know him,to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, and so, somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:6-11).
Again, anything we’ve done apart from God is… apart from God. To lay down your reputation is to experience the life of Christ (turn one chapter earlier to Philippians 2 for a fuller illustration). So lay it down, and let Christ be the one to raise you back up.
Lay It Down Today
What are the “plaques” in your life, whether they’re physical or not? What do you point to as evidence of your own goodness or righteousness? Put another way, what do you find yourself defending other than God—or even perhaps in the midst of “defending God”?
A.W. Tozer, in his “Five Vows for Spiritual Power,” put it this way: “We’re all born with a desire to defend ourselves. And if you insist upon defending yourself, God will let you do it. But if you turn the defense of yourself over to God He will defend you.… For 30 years now it has been a source of untold blessing to my life. I don’t have to fight. The Lord does the fighting for me. And He’ll do the same for you. He will be an enemy to your enemy and an adversary to your adversary, and you’ll never need to defend yourself.”
So where do you need to lay down your reputation? Spend some time submitting that part of you to God in prayer right now. Resolve not to defend yourself, but to allow God to be your defender. And then, get up from prayer and start walking it out.