Now for a little self disclosure…
Although Pam and I’s reputation is generally good, the truth is we have struggled throughout our marriage! In a nutshell, neither of us handle anger well, but instead avoid our conflicts issues deceitfully and then tend to “people-please” each other.
I have always been horrified about “worst case scenarios”…of any kind, and my marriage is no exception. When I think of my relationship with Pam, nothing fills me with more angst than possibly finding out I’ve built on a poor foundation and living a lie. Every moody moment, any tense arguments or conflicts and any sign of her disapproval sends my mind racing into the worst! Why? I generally tend to look at myself and my life through a very self protecting lenses and so my greatest agenda is summed up with the statement,”IS ANTOINE SAFE” and so I avoid, avoid, avoid! It is a temptation to hide such embarassing traits. Who wants a reputation of weaknesses and blindspots?
What reputation do you want as a couple? To being known as the “super sharp” couple that everyone admires? To be known as the fighters who can get into “tell it like it is” at the drop of a hat? Or is it to be the noble, spiritual and wise couple that is always leading others? Maybe its the the “down to earth”couple, the secretive couple, etc…? I think, for Pam and I, we have a pretty good reputation but the truth is our reputations is not the greatest issue. Reputations aren’t always true! Reputations can put us in a box that allow for others to judge us! The issue is to allow the Spirit to work on WHO WE ARE and then allow our reputations take care of themselves. Want a practical?
The more I have gone through the the Lords Prayer, the more I’ve realized how much the Lord was emphasizing prayer as being foundational to one’s identity. As we continue with this exploration (beginning in Matthew 6:9) let’s see how the FIRST PETITION of the Lord’s Prayer plays a key role in understanding prayer’s role in our identity and any issues of reputation.
Your Name Be Held Holy
Before we are to ask for health or well-being and before we even ask for protection from our problems and our enemies, we are told to ask for something else. Jesus tells us to pray that God’s name to be held holy (set apart as sacred). What’s the point of this?
Biblically, someone’s name was never just a collection of vowels and consonants associated with a particular person, place or thing. A name was, in the Hebrew worldview, the summary of a person’s identity and reputation. We still speak of giving a “bad name” to people, places or things today. It was similar to the way we use a signature. If someone signs a contract, their written name would represent the writer’s approval and agreement with the contract. For the Hebrews of Jesus day, and many sects today, the Name of God was never fully spelled out or uttered for fear of misusing it! You could possibly substitute the word “reputation” for name to get the same idea! Don’t mess with or misuse God’s reputation (also the third statement of the Decalogue/Ten Commandments)!
In essence, it’s asking God, “May your reputation be honored and sacred in my life today”. In other words, the first issue isn’t protecting yourself or your reputation, but in honoring God’s reputation daily . Jesus challenged his followers to prioritize God’s reputation. This takes the pressure off of us and off our spouse! We get less consumed with our image, or hiding the embarrassing aspects of our marriage and our personal hangups, to think beyond ourselves.
Are we concerned about God being accurately represented, in our marriages and our personal lives, or are we more consumed with our own reputation and agendas? Is it our priority to be “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13) to a dark world or is it our personal happiness, comforts and rights?
For a moment, think about your marriage’s reputation. Is it good? Is it attractive? Do you think it’s respected? How would others describe it? Is what people think about you accurate or is what happens behind closed doors very different? The question Jesus seems to asks is, “What does your marriage teach about God?”. Whether your reputation is, “good” or “bad”, start praying about this; what God wants to see and be taught, to the world (Ephesians 5:22-33 is a great place to start). My personal challenge is to make this shift in thinking. As His child, to pray about my Father’s reputation in this world, a world that is absolutely clueless about Him.
Start praying daily about God’s reputation to your children,your extended family and to the world.
Here are some corresponding Psalms that express this heart.
Psalms 8, 15, 16, 50, 52, 68, 76, 78, 80, 83, 86, 89, 95, 96, 105, 106, 115, 124, 135, 138, 145, 148
Trust and commitment THRIVE when this heart is present in a relationship.
Pray for us as well!
In the next post we will be looking at God’s Eternal Agenda!