Refining Your Reputation
The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold [to separate the impurities of the metal], And each is tested by the praise given to him [and his response to it, whether humble or proud].
Our reputations occasionally may be unfairly tarnished when others spread gossip that’s not true, but over time, the judgement of public opinion rings fairly true. That can be good news or bad news depending on the opinion!
When precious metals endure the refining process, ore is heated to the melting point. At intervals, the dross, or sludge, s skimmed from the top gradually leaving the purified metal. In the same way, the opinions of others are the fire in our lives to separate the noble from the selfish, the good from the bad. If we are wise, bad reports can be tremendously valuable- if we’ll accept them and respond with changes. But if we take ourselves off the fire by excusing our actions and blaming someone else, we won’t learn, and we won’t benefit from the heat of criticism.
A good reputation takes time to earn, just as it takes time for the fire to heat ore and slowly purify gold and silver. We need to pay attention to other’s opinions of us, but we should be careful not to weigh everyone’s opinion equally. Place high value on the perceptions of wise people, but discount the backbiting gossip of angry people or those who flatter to win your approval.
Stay in the heat, learn hard lessons, and let God use the fires of others’ opinions to purify your heart.
To disregard what the world thinks of us is not only arrogant but utterly shameless.
Everybody needs one good friend. Some who loves them enough to be honest, brutally honest if necessary. The Bible teaches that God purifies us like a silversmith purifies silver by heating it until all the impurities come to the surface and can be scooped off. Many times that purification is through adversity. Sometimes, however, it comes from the criticism of others and even through gossip. At other times it comes through praise or exaltation that can be just as harmful. So we need a friend who knows us and loves us who can help us sort through all that is said about us and pull out the truth. Most people aren’t as bad as the rumor mill makes them but neither are they as good as people think they are. True friends never let us fall into the pit of despair when the words spoken to us and about us are negative. True friends also won’t let our egos get out of control when we’re receiving praise. True friends keep us on an even keel and help us to build our lives and reputations with integrity.
I remember my dad telling me as a young boy that the most important thing we could have was a good reputation and it would never be just given to us. It had to be earned a little at a time as we acted and reacted in honorable ways. He said that to be trusted to borrow money, for example, came from making sure we paid it back and paid it on time. He said that to become known as a person who kept our word stemmed from making it a habit of keeping our word, for example when we set a time to meet someone, if we were there at the exact time, we were late. These were not just words for I observed that my dad put them into practice in every situation. To be sure there were those throughout his life that would make false accusations, but they never moved my dad to change how he operated. I used to think that those things just bounced off him but as I’ve grown older, I can see that each of them were painful. I think there’s no greater pain than a false accusation especially in some area where we have worked hard to build integrity. I once asked dad about how he handled such criticism and I’ve never forgot his reply. He said that sometimes dogs bark at the moon but they can’t pull it down from the sky and sometimes people will say hurtful things but they can’t pull you down to their level unless you pay attention to them. The last thing my dad said was that it took a lifetime to build a good reputation but you could tear it down in five seconds so you had to guard it with all your might.
What I’ve learned in life is that we need a good friend who will always be honest with us. I’m sure King David was thankful for having such a friend as Nathan. When David was on a path of destruction, Nathan loved him enough to risk a confrontation and we need such friends.
Now to be sure we all have such a friend and His name is Jesus. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, He will constantly bring us to the point of refining. Sometimes He does this through the inner conviction of the Spirit. At other times He uses adversities. Often He uses the words and responses of others. But in all cases, His purpose is to refine us and purify us even if the method is painful at the moment.
Dr. John Thompson