The Expository Files.

Reputation vs. Recognition

2 Timothy 2:15

What is in a name? How often we find ourselves wondering if people will recognize us by our name. We long for name recognition in our community and among our contemporaries.

Undoubtedly, we should strive to establish a good reputation in our community (as did Cornelius - Acts 10:22). Are a good reputation and name recognition one in the same? I think not.

The difference: Name recognition is something sought after and stems from a selfish ambition of wanting a better name than others (a problem that many preachers have). A good reputation is incidental (like a by-product) and afforded you by your desire and goal to go to heaven.

Sadly however, our society harbors an attitude of selfishness to the point that desiring name recognition replaces owning a good reputation. Our nation is now paying the price for its attitude of selfishness and individual name recognition. The Japanese work ethic can teach us much. Generally, the typical Japanese working man or woman is totally committed to his or her job. He believes in the product he is helping to produce and therefore does the best he can for the company. His motivation? It is not to get a pay raise, not to climb the ladder of success, and not to be better than the worker beside him. His motivation is the satisfaction he receives from knowing that the product he helps to make is the best on the market. It's an extension of himself. Thus, promotions and pay raises come naturally and worthily and the worker accepts them with equal humility.

The typical American worker works simply because it's a job, a way to make money, a way to get ahead of everybody else. He doesn't believe in the product he is helping to make. The result is at or below the average and excessively below the standard set by none other than our Japanese friends. The American gets caught up in demanding a pay raise and goes on strike (further exercises of the same old selfish attitude). He gets so furious with the company that he takes out his frustration in his work. Consequently, results are poor work habits and an utter despising of the work that he does.

Is it any wonder that the Japanese are very quietly and efficiently setting world standards of excellence and quality in the products they make? Then, we as greedy, possession-hungry consumers go quickly into debt to obtain these products to proudly display to our friends. This behavior is no wonder because our selfish dog-eat-selfish dog world demands it.

Wait a minute! Where does the Christian fit in the midst of all this anarchy? Is seeking a good name in the community all that bad?

Well, maybe not but let's see what the apostle Paul says that we should seek. "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15). The words "be diligent" ("study" - KJV) mean: to hasten to do a thing, to exert oneself, endeavor, give diligence.

Paul says we need to seek diligently to be approved unto God - to do good work for the Lord, not ashamedly or despisingly. Next, Paul answers why we are to be diligent: "Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are His, ' and, 'Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.' . . . therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work." (2 Timothy 2:19,21). Why are we to do good work? Because we have a name, a name recognized by God above.

So what have we learned? That the child of God has a name already recognized by God and that through proper living before God, we will have a good reputation among our fellow man. If that is not being a success, then what is?

By Shawn Smith
From Expository Files 1.10; October, 1994