Across the table sat a man of large girth and hostile demeanor—one who formerly had served as his platoon sergeant. This noncommissioned officer faced legal charges that if successful, would eject him from the army dishonorably. He had been caught stealing equipment from his own soldiers, lying and shirking his duties. Now, less than a year later, enough charges had accumulated to bring him to trial.
The defense attorney put on quite a fanfaronade. He praised the many years of service this Sergeant First Class had given his nation. He cited his past achievements as if reading an updated military version of Who’s Who. Then he looked at the lieutenant and said mockingly, “Have you ever served in Viet Nam?” The lieutenant shook his head no. “Do you see the ribbons on this man’s uniform? He’s been awarded for bravery in combat. He served his country with distinction. What right do you think you have to cast judgment on this man . . . to jeopardize his career? You have but a fraction of the time in service he has.”
Tension filled the room like a rocket teetering on the edge of booster failure. All eyes fastened on the young lieutenant. He thought for a long moment. He chose not to answer the attorney’s question but rather to ask his own. “Did this man reenlist in the Army so he could continue to serve in the military?” The defense attorney nodded in agreement. “When he reenlisted did he raise his right hand and swear an oath beside the American flag and before God, that he would faithfully discharge his duties?” Again the defense attorney moved his head in affirmation.
“Then the issue before us is not what this man did in Viet Nam, or what medals adorn his chest. What matters is that he violated the very standards of the Uniform Code of Military Justice he swore to obey. He violated his word. He shirked his responsibility to lead as a senior NCO. He broke the law and caused dissension among the very troops he was given the privilege to lead.”
The defense was silent. No nugatory remarks would spoil the freshened breeze of truth. But one could not help but feel sadness for a soldier forced to leave with eighteen years of military experience. He forfeited his retirement to embrace disgrace. Why? Because somewhere along the way, he jettisoned doing what was right. He twisted the meaning of duty. He determined that his reputation and years of sacrifice justified abusing the present to act as he pleased.
1 Timothy 3:13-- For those who have served well as deacons acquire a good standing for themselves, and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
1 Ti. 4:12.--Let no one despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
May God give us the humility to understand that our reputation is only as sacred as what we do today. One fall can erase years of hard, honorable climbing. If we choose to swim in the pond of pride we will surely drink the poisoned water of arrogance until eventually what drowns is our good name.
You may be tired of walking with integrity as you watch many around you bend the rules, flaunt immorality and seemingly get ahead. Don’t give in or give up! Your reputation matters to God and it has a far greater effect on those around you than you might ever realize.
When a saint falls, God’s perfect name is abused, the scorn of those who seek reason to disobey is confirmed, and we collectively suffer a damaged reputation. Consider then, what is achieved by modeling a life of faithfulness to God and His word. You become an inspiration to others. When they need meaningful answers guess who they will seek out? Keep shining for Jesus, He’s worth betting your reputation on!
Never pin your faith to a man’s reputation as a servant of God, always watch for the Holy Spirit. If a man is talking the truth of God, those who listen will meet it again whether they like it or not; if he is not talking God’s truth, they won’t come across it anymore.—Oswald Chambers in Conformed to His Image
©1998 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)