Gauging Your Reputation
I’m going to invite you to Ruth, chapter 4. Together I want us to consider, we’re going to look at this passage related to Boaz’ reaction to Ruth, and we’re going to use the narrative of this story in relationship to our lives, to consider how God can use us in the mundane of everyday experiences in life. If you’re here with us today, we think about Sunday, it’s an important day, but what’s important about this day isn’t that you went to church. It’s that you’re with the church, right. God wants to do something in our life.
This becomes a place for us to be equipped, to experience what that relationship with God is about, to allow his truth to transform our lives and to understand that God then has mobilized me to impact the world around me. It’s not about just going to church on Sunday. It’s about what Jesus wants to do in you. Jesus is doing a work in you that just magnifies the glory of who he is in this world, so as we just continue in worship, we look into God’s word, not just simply for this day, but for every day and what God can do in our lives.
If you’ve been with us in this story of Ruth, you’ve seen how this story started on the backdrop of this man named Elimelech with his sons Mahlon and Chilion. This lady named Naomi, Naomi sees the death of everyone close to her, her husband, her two kids, and she’s left with her two daughter-in-laws. One of them leaves, and the other one stays. The one that stays, her name is Ruth. The reason Ruth stays is because it tells us in Ruth chapter 1 that she comes to know this God that Naomi belongs to, and she desires to pursue this God, and at the same time wants to help Naomi because if Naomi is left to herself without family around, being of older in age, in this type of environment, Naomi wouldn’t be able to care for herself and she’s almost facing certain death.
Ruth partners with Naomi. They go back to the land that Naomi is from, and to Bethlehem, and they end up in what’s the equivalent of today really a soup kitchen. They begin to find a way to provide for the means in their lives, for at least the day. They can’t really think much beyond tomorrow. They get to a place where they recognize, in Ruth chapter 3, especially in verse 9, that unless someone rescues them, that their future looks pretty dim.
We’re introduced to this concept in the book of Ruth to the idea of what is a kinsman-redeemer. Kinsman-redeemer was an Old Testament provision by God to help provide for those, if they find themselves in some sort of bind, where it would be detrimental to their life and to their health. A kinsman-redeemer was this Old Testament law in which God would make provision from family members to care for other family members in the midst of their need.
This idea of kinsman-redeemer, we’ve seen really it take place in the relationship between Naomi and Ruth. We saw it in chapter 3 with Boaz and Ruth and we’re going to see it again next week, as we look at the conclusion of the story of Ruth. In Ruth chapter 3, verse 9, we saw in the context that Ruth put herself in a place that was not the best of circumstances. Ruth in that moment asks something that females didn’t typically do in this culture. She asks Boaz to marry her. She’s looking for that kinsman-redeemer, God’s provision for a close family member to redeem the family in their dire situation.
The way God’s law was set up was the kinsman-redeemer was to be the closest relative to the need, and if that relative didn’t step up, then it would just go down the line to the next closest relative, and looking for redemption from a family member. Ultimately for us, this idea of kinsman-redeemer is a beautiful picture to consider, especially as it relates to the New Testament because it’s ultimately a picture of Jesus. What you see at the end of Ruth is through Ruth comes the lineage of King David and from King David comes the promised messiah, and the promised messiah redeems all people as what was given to the promise of Abraham in Genesis chapter 15, that through him all nations would be blessed.
The messiah’s redemption would come for all people that we could trust in him and find redemption in him as an ultimate example of what a kinsman-redeemer is, that Jesus became flesh, he took on flesh for us, and he gave his life for us, that he could become the sufficient sacrifice to our needs. Hebrews chapter 2, verse 14 on describe that for us.
This kinsman-redeemer is a beautiful illustration of what Jesus would ultimately fulfill for us as individuals. We can relate to this story. Ruth chapter 4, in the description of this kinsman-redeemer, starts off like this. “Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate after the time that Ruth asked for his hand in marriage, and sat down there just as the guardian redeemer he had mentioned came along.” So Boaz goes to the town gate and he looks for the next closest kinsman-redeemer to pass by this town gate. It says, “Boaz said come over here my friend and sit down. So he went over and sat down and Boaz took 10 of the elders of the town and said sit here, and they did so.”
“Then he said to the guardian redeemer, the kinsman-redeemer, Naomi who has come back from Moab is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here, in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so, but if you will not, tell me so I will know, for no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line. I will redeem it, said this kinsman-redeemer.”
Boaz goes to the city gates. The city gates are important in the town, or the time of Boaz’ life. This is the place where business is done. This is a place where leadership is made known. This is the place where the wise people of the city gather together and what happened at the city gates involved or would trickle down into the entire city. Boaz knows if he wants to conduct business, and he wants the accountability of this business being made known in a public forum, then he is to do it at the city gates.
He heads to this place of prominence. What I want us to recognize as we consider this idea of this kinsman-redeemer, is that what Boaz is doing here, very much involves the hand of God, but it’s not taking place necessarily on Sunday or on the sabbath in his context. I think this is important to recognize this because in our culture today, we tend to have this idea of separating what is secular and what is sacred, but in the eyes of God, everything that he created belongs to him, and in that sense, therefore it is all sacred. It all belongs to God, so God very much cares as much about what you do on this day as he does on any day.
Boaz is seeking the favor of God in the way that he is producing or conducting himself in a business affair. He goes to this city gate, suggesting to us, a Monday. God desires to still work on you and in you and through you. I like how verse 1 unfolds this for us. Boaz goes to the city gate, and as if somewhat surprised, maybe a little bit unexpected, it just so happens that the first in line kinsman-redeemer just happens to walk by, right? Unexpectedly. When you read about the story of Ruth you see this a couple of times, that Ruth, in Ruth chapter 2, verse 3, she just sort of happened to end up in the field of Boaz, right? Boaz goes to the city gates because he knows he needs to be in the place of business. He needs to let the leadership know what his plans are, with this kinsman-redeemer, in case the first redeemer doesn’t redeem, but it just so happens, when he’s sitting at the city gates, this kinsman-redeemer that’s first in line walks by.
When you tell this narrative story from our perspective, sometimes things look unexpected. When you read narratives and you recognize it’s from man’s point of view, it’s not always recognizing to us that God has some secret or some workings in the background in which his divine hand, his sovereign is accomplishing things. To us, it sort of looks like this unexpected surprise, but to God, it is no accident.
Have you ever considered God is neither surprised nor disappointed by you? God isn’t surprised nor disappointed by you because there’s nothing that you’re going to do in life that God didn’t already know that you would conduct by your behavior. Being surprised or disappointed sort of has this unexpected reaction to your action because we couldn’t anticipate what was about to take place. As a parent, when you watch your children, sometimes you might be surprised by their behavior, hopefully more in a good way than a bad way because you’re not sovereign.
But when it comes to God, he’s neither surprised nor disappointed in us because there’s nothing which you’re going to do in your life that he didn’t already know. 1 John 3:20 kind of says this in a creepy way, but it says, “God knows everything.” The very end of that verse, God knows everything. You kind of think that in the context of Santa Claus, that could not work out in your favor. It’s like Santa walks after you, making the list, checking it twice. Good, bad, good, bad, let’s weight the scales. Let’s see where you end up. I’m so disappointed in you, right?
God who knows everything, the beauty about God is that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and the reason Jesus could cover your sins on the cross is because Jesus already knew the sin that you would conduct before you conducted it and so Jesus’ sacrifice becomes sufficient for your life. What that means to us is there’s nothing that you can do to make God love you more, and there’s nothing that you’ve done to make God love you less. God already knows. The comfort of his knowing for us is that while God is just, he’s also gracious. God in the midst of knowing everything that rests in my heart, and your heart, still loves us.
You think about who Ruth was, in the land of Moab. Outside societies from Israel would sacrifice children on altars to God. They would burn them alive. They worshiped pagan gods. Yet God in this story makes provision. To us, it looks unexpected, but the Lord it’s no surprise. Isaiah 42, verse 8 and 9 says this, “I am the Lord. That is my name. My glory I give to no other nor my praise to carved idols. Behold the former things have come to pass and new things I now declare. Before they spring forth, I tell you of them.” God knows. God knows.
I think the story of Adam and Eve in the garden and the original sin, when they’re plainly told by God not to do something and they do it anyway. It’s sort of the point of this text as it starts to declare the story of Adam and Eve in their sin, how is God going to react? We don’t deserve his presence anymore. We directly defied the king of kings and the Lord of Lords and the kingdom of which he has created for himself, and now have acted in rebellion, and yet we live in that kingdom. What’s God going to do or say?
His answer, he pursues them. He gives them grace. The beauty of the story, this idea of kinsman-redeemer, it’s the thought that Ruth could not save herself. So she throws herself at the mercy of Boaz, knowing that is a kinsman-redeemer. He reflects the characteristic of God, and in the freedom of what he has, he rescues her. He uses his position on Monday in the environment in which he works in the arena of which he belongs to make an influence in this world. That’s the beauty of freedom in the godly sense.
You know what makes freedom free? It’s when those who experience the freedom sacrifice what they have for those that find themselves in bondage. For people to experience freedom, it always come on the backdrop of sacrifice. That’s what makes the land of the free and the home of the brave such an attractional place in our world. That thought of someone, you think about people that work in positions in our government that’s about serving and protecting and providing. It’s about leveraging their freedom for the benefit of others that might find themselves in bondage, that they can experience an escape in that moment of despair and discovering freedom themselves.
This idea of kinsman-redeemer is an ultimate reflection of Jesus because it’s about this individual and what he possesses, seeking how God can utilize that beyond just this gathering of worship, that God has put him in a place to influence this world, and so he leverages his freedom as a kinsman and what he has to provide for someone else that does not have.
It’s saying to us, God has you in a place to make a difference too. That’s what his grace being experienced in your life is about. Jesus comes in our bondage to set us free, that in that freedom we can leverage the beauty of who Christ is, to see the freedom of others around us. Guys, I think the church, we’ve said before here as a congregation, the church is really the only, the most purest institution that exists for a purpose outside of itself.
The beauty of what today is, is that God could take a text like this and leverage it in my heart, but not just allow it to sit with me, but that, the beauty of this story radiates through my life that Boaz becomes one of many people told throughout scripture of which I become a part of and seeing how God could rescue one like me and use me in that position to just declare the glory of who he is in this world.
The story continues in verse 5. “Then Boaz said, on the day you buy the land from Naomi,” talking to the first redeemer, “You also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dead man’s widow. In order to maintain the name of the dead with his property. At this the guardian redeemer said then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.” What’s happened in this story is the first redeemer comes along and he sees, oh great. In Israel’s day, land stayed in the context of a family. Since he’s next in line and there’s this land available, he’s thinking dollar signs, great, more money for me, and it’s more for my lineage and leaving the legacy of wealth, that’s spectacular. He’s all about buying the land.
Boaz is like, let me just, as a good businessman, disclose to you more information. When you leave from this business deal, you must also go home and explain to your wife why you now have another wife. The man’s thinking on top of that, well if I include this land and Ruth in this deal, then I’ll also get bitter Naomi and if there’s any lineage that comes from this, which is the point of the kinsman-redeemer, that the lineage would continue on within the context of that family and that land would stay from the family. It then divides the inheritance.
Now this individual doesn’t want to take that risk. I can’t say, looking at this story that this is maybe necessarily condemnation towards this individual. He may be looking at his life and his circumstance, and he’s looking at Boaz’ life and circumstance, and in Boaz’ life, it makes more sense for him to be the kinsman-redeemer for the needs of this family and he has the interest in it. But either way, he weighs the cost, and decides not to redeem, but Boaz does. Why?
When you think about the first three chapters of Ruth, I think we’ve clearly communicated Ruth’s background. In fact, we’ve even looked at verses in the story of Ruth, especially in chapter 2, when Ruth comes into Bethlehem, the concern of Naomi and Boaz is that Ruth is going to be mistreated, to the point that she could be abused in several different ways, maybe even killed. Ruth represented a people group that didn’t necessarily get a long with the Jewish people, and yet Boaz wants to take the risk of redeeming Ruth in this circumstance. Why? Might I suggest to you, Boaz’ background was one that made him sympathetic towards this particular need.
When you study Boaz’ lineage, Matthew chapter 1, verse 5 says it like this, “Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, the harlot. Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse.” When it’s giving the lineage of Matthew, of how Jesus comes into this world, it reminds us of where Boaz comes from. Rahab. Rahab, her background apparently in scripture is more important than her last name. She doesn’t even get a last name. It’s not like Rahab the smith or something. It’s Rahab the harlot. How would you like to be known in history as Rahab the harlot. As soon as you throw the name, it’s almost like your mind instantly tells you, if you know biblical stories, oh yeah, the harlot.
This is Boaz’ family tree. It says Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz, in this moment is sympathetic to the needs of Naomi and Ruth. I think his life led him that way. He’s seen what it means to have the stares, to be mistreated, to be looked down upon. Can I suggest to you, the people that are most effective in ministry are the ones that are consistently aware of the grace of God that rescued them? Boaz knows his family story. People of Israel march into the Promised Land. Rahab the harlot goes toward the people of Israel and providing them information. God rescues her, apart from her people that are destroyed, and she’s written into God’s story. A beautiful illustration of the sovereign grace of God being made known in her life.
The ones that I think are most effective in ministry are consistently aware of how the grace of God rescued their own soul in the midst of the desperation of their own need. You see, the story of Ruth, and she’s seeing that tomorrow there is no provision, throwing herself at the feet of the kinsman-redeemer. You see the story of Rahab, the same thing, and God using all of that as an illustration of our lives, that we in ourselves cannot rescue ourselves. There’s no performance that we can conduct to put ourselves in good standing before a holy God, and yet his grace reigns over us.
2 Corinthians 1:4 says this, “Who comforts us in all our afflictions so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God?” Paul writing to Titus sort of contrasts this idea between religious people and people understanding the grace of God through the gospel. Religious people tend to look at bad things in this world, and they sort of say ew, get that away from me. I don’t want that on me, but God’s people understand what he’s called us to in this world, that God’s light pierced myself in the darkness of my own heart to redeem and rescue me from the despair of which I possess, left unto myself.
Now God calls us to scatter into this world as light, and that God has done a work, such a work in me, that has transformed his own life that he radiates the goodness of his glory in the lives of those around me that we can see their lives transformed. Paul in Titus chapter 3 says this, “They must not slander anyone, and must avoid quarreling. Instead they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. Once we too were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasure. Our lives were full of evil and envy and we hated each other, but when God our savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us.”
The thought is that Jesus sympathizes and empathizes with our weakness. Paul then calls God’s people to mimic this attitude in this world. Just as Ruth becomes an illustration of the redemption of God’s hand and God being the ultimate kinsman-redeemer, one day we will look back and say how God has threaded all of human history together through one big redemption story of which we were all a part of. It says, Romans 8:28, all things work together for good. Meaning, your mess ups don’t mess God up. In fact they become a place for his divine hand of redemption, as his story is told through us.
The question becomes for us then, do you want to have God’s story written into your life? The idea for us is to walk in humility. Boaz, aware of his story, walks in humility as the kinsman-redeemer. If he walked in pride, he would look at this situation, just like the first kinsman-redeemer. The first kinsman-redeemer saw this in dollar signs, Boaz sees this story in love and relationship and legacy. It’s not about business charts. It’s about seeing what God has created in this world and leveraging it for the hearts of people.
The story goes then, in verse 7, “Now in earlier times in Israel for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel. So the guardian redeemer said to Boaz, buy it yourself and he removed his sandal. Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, today you are my witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Chilion and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth, the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses.”
The story is telling us in this business transaction that in Boaz’ day, people would literally, when they would make this sort of deal over land, they would go out and they would walk the boundary of the land. They didn’t hire someone to do the boundary surveys, but rather they marked it by here’s the stump. Here’s the rock. You walk over the rock. One side of this rock is their property. One side of this rock is your property, but they would go out and walk the entire boundary of this property, as if to affirm together what this land really is.
Then the one who could have redeemed it would then remove his sandal and hand it to the one that wants to redeem it as if to say, I have no foothold here. I will never come back and stake my claim. You have a leg to stand on. This is your property. Stake your foot in the ground. It belongs to you. Boaz acquires this, investing not in real estate but in relationship. One guy sees Ruth as a problem. The other guy sees Ruth as a gift.
Boaz looks at this in terms of love and legacy. Can I say for us, as long as we look at people as a problem, we’ll never be a part of the solution. Maybe it’s a place for us, in contrast between these two individuals, to stop in our heart and just see within our own lives where do I have a barrier towards any people group? Do I have any sort of disdain or hatred? How do I speak about individuals or groups of people?
I remember sitting with an individual once, talking about the future of their church and not being optimistic, because he went out, looked out in the crowd and then seemed to have a lot more gray hairs than not gray hair. Looking at the writing on the wall, I thought, well, when it comes to the future, we probably won’t have one because we can’t seem to attract the people. Then, when you listened to the individual start to share and they talk about upcoming generations in our society, it tends to be negative. They may think differently, and because they think differently it’s treated with disdain within the group.
The answer is, you’re probably not reaching them because they get the feeling in being around you that they’re not welcome, right? If you want to make an impact for God in this world, you can’t harbor hate. You think about the context of Jesus’ own life, dying for sin. He knew where your heart was. He knew the darkest secrets. He knew sin that destroys in your life. What’d he do? He loved you. He served you. He sought what was best for you. He gave his life for you.
When you look at the culture around us, and we think man, well how do we impact this? What difference can it make? Can I say it starts with the attitude in our lives and as long as we look at people as the problem, we’re never going to reach towards the solution. People are not the problem. The way scripture tells us in the end of Ephesians, that we put on the armor of God and we do spiritual battle, that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. It’s telling us, people aren’t the problem. People are actually the prisoners of war, that when we do battle, we do battle spiritually, but on behalf of people that need the redemption of Christ in their lives, we serve and we love. We’re not surprised by the darkness that rests in the human heart because we recognize within the context of our own heart there is darkness.
On Monday, we make a difference. Boaz, in this story, I think the beauty of it is, he’s not a bad businessman. Maybe it’s good for us to say, you can be a nice businessman and a godly businessman and still do good business. Boaz goes into this redemption of kinsman-redeemership relationship with Ruth. I like the theology it sort of lays out in their relationship. You look at the two contrasting people here, Ruth and Boaz, two people from two different positions in life, and both of them leaving a godly legacy.
Rich and poor has nothing to do with godliness. You can be poor, you can be rich and you can love Jesus. Being godly and letting God work through you, and when you consider these two individuals getting married, you contrast the identity of where they come from. Ruth is a pagan and Boaz is a part of God’s people. Ruth is poor, Boaz is rich. Boaz is a virgin. Ruth is not. Boaz is a business owner. Ruth owns one shirt. The most polar opposite people that you could probably think of in the arenas in which they would interact in society.
Yet, they’re going to have a beautiful marriage. Why? Because they both love the Lord. Remember, we said in the beginning, the two most important questions you’ll answer in your life, who is your God and who will you marry. Men and women, we live in a society in our culture today, where this is the youngest state in America. We got a lot of young people. Let me just tell you the beauty of that. You’re holding within your hands the next generation that is going to influence the world around you. You want to make a difference, invest in the hearts of your young people. If you don’t do it, someone else will.
I would just maybe warn and encourage you, not to leave the development of your young people up to the government to teach them in the schools. I love that we have educational systems. If you’re here, you’re a teacher, God bless you. I pray for you, right? But they’re not the end of everything. God has gifted you children because God wants you to influence their heart in this world to make a difference. I mean, this church, our community, view in relationship to young people. You think about the influence this state has in being the youngest state in America, for the coming generations. If you don’t like the trajectory of where things are going, what I’m saying is, don’t just stop on Sunday.
Think about what God can do in you and through you on Monday. Let me just back up and say this. Two most important questions in life, who is your God and who will you marry. Mom and dad, you know when you hand your young people away in marriage, when you got married, you didn’t have it all figured out, and you have plenty of mistakes in front of you to make and some wisdom to gain. Sometimes, no matter how much mom and dad try to point you out, you just had to figure it out on your own. Some of us are a little more hard-headed than others, and being from the south, I will lead that charge, okay?
How do you know, young people, how can you walk in any sort of trust in handing your young people away in marriage? It’s whether or not their spouse loves God, because in loving God, in surrendering their life to God, they’re learning what it means to honor the person beside of them in marriage. Love is about leveraging all you are for the benefit of someone else. Love isn’t about what you get but what you give.
Let me just end here. In verse 11 and 12, this is the way the text concludes for this section. “Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, we are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman. May your family be like that of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah.”
The people are thinking about their own people group here. They’re thinking about the legacy of individuals whose godliness influenced their society, influenced their people, influenced Judah. They’re wishing this godly reputation, their desire before the Lord that Boaz and Ruth experience this godly reputation and legacy that also spreads from them. When you think about, in the context of the business world, if I just take the totality of this text, it starts with Boaz going to the city gates. The influence he makes beyond just the sabbath identity as God’s people but what does it look like to follow God Monday, through the rest of the week?
They’re continuing to talk about this legacy. Can I say to you, God cares about your reputation. But at the same time, I want you to follow the thought of what it means to have a reputation, not in the sense of being a people pleaser, but in a way that’s healthy. You know, some people pursue reputation, simply because they’re only interested in what people think about them. They become a people pleaser, and in doing so, you pursue, really, honestly, multiple gods in your life. You find yourself never pleased because you don’t know if other people are ever pleased with you. You get in this vicious cycle trying to people please for your reputation because you care about what people think about you.
Reputation is important but I think it’s important in context. Let me just read some verses, reminding us in Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches and favor is better than silver or gold.” So reputation. 1 Timothy 3:7, Paul talking about elders, he says this, “He must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and snare of the devil.” I don’t think any of us here would say, I want a horrible reputation. I really desire to be hated, right.
But there is a way that we can approach reputation that’s healthy and there’s a way we can approach reputation that is ungodly. In some context, I think as followers of Christ, there are certain situations where we are okay if our reputation is thrown in the mud because I choose to follow God even if that isolates me from society around me. We can be maligned for Christ. However, we don’t intentionally seek out a bad reputation. In fact, the bible tells us “Seek peace with all men, especially the household of faith,” Hebrews 12:14. “Bless and do not curse when people curse you,” Romans 12:14.
What’s the difference between reputation and character? Have you ever considered that? What’s the difference between reputation and character? Because March Madness is about to start, here’s a good quote by John Wooden. It says this, “Reputation is who people think you are and your character is who you really are. You’re the only one that knows your character. You can fool others, but you can’t fool yourself.”
When you consider this quote, reputation is who other people think you are, character is who you actually are and only you really know the difference, when you consider that, the bible gives us a few interesting passages on this. In 1 Timothy 3, I read this to you, talking about leadership within the church, that the individual must have a good reputation with those outside the church, that he will not fall into reproach and snare of the devil. What Paul is saying here, when it comes to leadership within the church, you can’t examine someone’s heart. There’s no way we can open you up and see what’s on the inside, but we can do, Paul says in this passage, is don’t take anyone that’s young to the faith and make them a leader within the church. They need a reputation that’s been established, meaning you want to see the display of the character in action.
The only way that you have to really determine if someone’s given their heart to God is by the way they live their lives. That’s what James says in James chapter 2. You show me your faith by your works. James isn’t saying demonstrate your faith for salvation towards God. What he’s saying is relationally towards one another, demonstrate your faith by your works. If your faith is real, we should see the evidence of that, because when God changes your heart, he changes your life. In 1 Timothy 3, that’s what he’s saying. He’s saying look for someone of a good reputation, but look at Revelation 3:1. “To the angel of the church in Sardis, write these are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds. You have a reputation of being alive,” but look at this. “You’re dead.”
Reputation is important, but it’s not everything. Are you more interested in reputation because of what people think of you or what Jesus thinks of you? The truth is, reputation, godly reputation only comes from godly character. If you want a godly reputation, you don’t start with trying to look good to people. That’s hypocrisy. If you want a godly reputation, you start with your heart. If you go for godly character, you demonstrate a godly reputation, but if you simply go for a good reputation, it doesn’t necessitate that you have godly character. That’s why the rest of this verse tells people to wake up, repent and turn.
Bring your heart back to the Lord. It’s not what people think about you. It’s what the Lord thinks of you. Where is your heart? Living a life like Boaz isn’t about reputation before others. It’s about an individual who had really given his heart to God and he’s not in it just for money, but he sees the position and what God’s given him as a place to leverage for his glory in this world.
I like the way Martin Luther said it. This is a verse that kind of just wrecks you, it says, not a verse but a quote. It says this, “God creates out of nothing. Therefore, until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him.” The people that have the greatest impact in this world are the ones that never get over the grace of God that’s rained over their lives. It’s in the surrendering of that heart that we see how God can use us to make a difference in the world around us. God calls his people into darkness.
Can I tell you guys, if we want to impact our society, it’s not about how much ministry we can create in the church. It’s about how we can use the ministry that exists here to leverage the heart to minister to the world around us. How do we sympathize with it? How do we desire to make his glory known? By never getting over the grace of God that’s impacted our own hearts.