Word gets around. People talk about you. For better or worse, you have a reputation. As a player, coach, or parent, your reputation precedes you. People watch you from a distance or up close, they see you coming their way, and immediately their minds are flooded with whom they believe you to be. Hothead. Jerk. Competitive. Easy going. Supportive. Combative. Christian. Hypocrite. They’re thinking something about you. And what they think determines what you get form them in response.

The first part of Proverbs 3 urges readers to develop a character based on humility, love, and loyalty. Then, verse 4 says, “You will find favor and good repute (a good reputation) in the sight of God and man.”

Three questions to consider:

What does God think of me? He knows your heart. What does he find there? Sincerity? Genuine faith? Or, something else, like an act. If God were to write an editorial about you and publish it, what honest opinions would he give? Now, let’s be clear, God loves you in spite of all your flaws. That’s without question. Jesus died for you, as Romans 5 says, while you were still a sinner and wanting nothing to do with him. Yet, there is wisdom in Proverbs 3:4. Our character matters to God. He wants us to be people of humility, love, and loyalty–first to him and then to others.

What do people think of me? I know, I know, you’re not supposed to worry about what people think of you, right? That’s what you’ve been told your whole life. Just be yourself. Just do what you do. Don’t worry about what other people think. That’s their problem. Certainly, we can’t go through life being controlled by the opinions and expectations of other people, but what do we do with Proverbs 3:4? It seems to indicate that what others think of us does indeed matter. And, truly, it does. Your reputation is really all you have, when it comes down to it. Do people see you as humble, loving, and loyal, first toward Jesus and then toward people? If not, we are living in sin, plain and simple.

Do I care what God and others think of me? Well, I want them to see me as a good player or as a good coach…is that enough? You and I both know Proverbs 3:4 isn’t talking about that. If I claim to be a believer in Jesus and yet my character isn’t being shaped to be humble, loving, and loyal to him and then to others, my faith is either in need of growth or is a mirage in the first place. Being a good ballplayer or coach might earn you a little favor here on earth, but it counts for nothing before the Lord. Only a life humbled in submissive love to Jesus counts in God’s eyes. Only a life lived in faithful service of others stores up treasures in heaven.

Friend, I pray that you and I will seek to find favor and a good reputation in the eyes of God and other people. Let’s humble ourselves. Let’s love unconditionally. Let’s be loyal to our savior and to those he’s sent us to serve.

Lord Jesus, thank you for humbling yourself to die on a cross, for loving me without reservation, and for being loyal to your people. Mold me to be just like you. Amen.