- For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. (Romans 7:18 ESV)
That famous folk philosopher, Bob Dylan, once wrote, “If you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” It is beneficial for a Christian to recognize that in our flesh, there dwells no good thing.
Reputation is what people think about us. Character is what God knows to be true about us. We can spend a whole lifetime dwelling on our reputation and never build our character. Only when we lose our reputation that we start to develop a godly character.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, had to lose her reputation to birth the Savior of the world. The bigger than Mary became with the child, the more people talked, but her character grew. She had to dwell on what God knew about her, not what people thought about her. The fear of man is always a snare (Proverbs 29:25).
Isaiah 64:6 tells us that all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. We can come to Christ by faith and receive God’s mercy but live like it was our righteousness that won our salvation. Self-righteousness is the sin that makes us try to promote our reputation beyond our character.
So many prominent Christian leaders have fallen in recent history. Their public posture was so out of step with their private lives. If your reputation does not reflect your character, you become a Pharisee, a white-washed tomb.
Like Dylan, if we realize we “ain’t got” nothing to lose, you can’t hang on to what you don’t have.
The image is used with permission by Microsoft.
Ken Barnes is the author of “Broken Vessels” published in February 2021 and “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”, published by YWAM Publishing in 2011.