My husband, Justin, is co-authoring today!
“Why do they still think of me the way I was three years ago? Can’t they see I’ve changed?” Chuck had given his heart to the Lord about 12 years ago, but had seen little change in his spiritual life until the last three. He knew of the heart-wrenching moments when he had come to a place of surrender and allowed the Lord to work in him a heart change of pride to humility. Nothing was more precious to him than seeing his own weaknesses transformed by the power of the Word. He walked in new places of strength as he let go of the sins that he had given into repeatedly. One thing was bothering him now. He knew he had some major changes, God certainly knew that he had matured as a Christian…why didn’t others understand the same thing?
The Possession of a Reputation
You aren’t the one who holds your reputation. The other person is the one who holds a reputation of you, and it may or may not be accurate. The fact is, you are a new creature when you are saved, but you are also a work in progress. God is changing you in different areas as you continually grow and mature in Him. You are building a new reputation. In Matthew 12:33-34 you can see that you are known by your fruit, and you’re going to speak what is in your heart good or bad.
Others can’t begin to see what is in your heart until you open your mouth. That’s why you need to be talking about what God has done in you. Your testimony is a platform for those around you to see how you have been an overcomer. Satan may use pride as a temptation to choke it out. Don’t let him. Lay the pride aside, and let others know how God showed you specifically what was in you and you repented.
It takes a lifetime to gain a favorable reputation, but only one act of foolishness can cause it to slip away. Wisdom needs to be applied when you share an intimate heart change. Paul did not hesitate to share his past, but he did not share it in every city to which he wrote. You need the balance of being led by the Spirit. Maybe you did hate your sister because of envy, but sharing it could wreck the relationship. On the other hand, you may feel that you need to share it because God knows she suspected that of you and asked Him for evidence of a change of heart. The story of Joseph and his brothers comes to mind here.
Let’s Flip Your Role
Maybe you’re not in Chuck’s shoes; maybe you’re the one looking at Chuck. Perhaps you can think of someone who has a reputation for gossip or who has a critical nature. You shake your head, “He hasn’t changed, hasn’t changed, hasn’t changed!” Remember, you don’t often see the heart changes of others. Your thoughts and feelings toward that person should be “love thinks no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:5d). God sees you as a work in progress, see that other brother as a work in progress, too. Realize that we are all at a different place in our walk with God.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 NKJV
What can you share right now about a recent heart change God has worked in you? Do you need to change your thinking towards someone because his reputation has preceded him?
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Photo by xJasonRogersx (Creative Commons)