Devotion for the Week...
My father-in-law is a pastor and for a while they lived and pastored here in the same small town where Paul and I now live. They moved away about a year before we arrived, though, so we didn't live here at the same time. When we first got here, we were often amused by how we were introduced because almost every introduction was the same, "This is Pastor Parsons' son and daughter-in-law."
It happened in the church, of course, since Pastor Parsons had been their pastor only a year ago, but it also happened all around town. Paul's father was well known, and well liked, so many people connected us to him.
The Bible says, "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold" (Proverbs 22:1). A good name simply means a good reputation, being known for good things rather than being known for being rude or impatient or mean. A good name is not necessarily earned by one great act of kindness, but rather over many, many little interactions with the people in our communities.
Because I live in a small town, I know most of the store cashiers by name, and they know me. I chat with the ladies at the post office when I go in to check my mail, and once even opened a package before leaving so that one of them could see my Round Trip Quilt when it came home to me. It is obvious that my interactions around town affect how people see me. That may not seem to be the case for you, especially if you live in a big city. But even though you may see a different cashier every time you go to the store, there are other people with whom you have those small, daily interactions that allow them to form an opinion of your character.
Of course, as believers, it's not only our own names that are affected by how we treat the people we interact with. While talking about how God works through believers to reconcile other people to Him, Paul wrote, "We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us" (2 Corinthians 5:20). An ambassador is an official representative of his or her home country to another country and, as such, they present their entire country to people who may never meet another person from that home country. For example, if the Canadian ambassador to France were to start acting rude and arrogant, he or she would create a poor impression among the French, not only of his or her own character, but also of all Canadians.
So, as Christ's ambassadors, we represent Christ. Those actions that hurt our name in our community also hurt His name. Those things that build up our good name, also build His good name.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).
To act justly - to do what is right.
To love mercy - to show love and kindness, even at times when it isn't deserved.
To walk humbly with your God - First up, to walk with God, having an ongoing relationship with Him, and then also to remember that we are not perfect, that we often need God's mercy, and that He willingly gives it to us because of our faith in Jesus.
If our lives are characterized by those three things, then we will earn a good name in the community, and be good ambassadors for the One we represent.