By Stephen Phinney

“A Psalm of David. O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend; In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the LORD; He swears to his own hurt and does not change; He does not put out his money at interest, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken” (Psalms 15:1-5, NASB).
Having a good name is worth more than any and all accomplishments a man could ever obtain.  In the above passage, David tells us that only those who walk in integrity, do works that are righteous, speak the Truth, refuse to speak ill of others, and take up the reproach of their friends are worthy enough to dwell in the tent of the living God.  Well, there are six basic requirements that need to be fulfilled before this can happen.
1.      Being a people who are true to their word.  Being true to our word is rare and in fact, impossible, without Christ doing it through us.  God gives ongoing warnings to those of us who resist Christ’s mind (inside of us) in being True to His own Word (also inside of us).   Yes, the Word of God lives and dwells within our mortal soul if we are born-again.  Christ is the only One who can actually be True to the Father’s Word, by faithfully fulfilling our commitments through us.  Let’s examine a few of the areas of “keeping our word.”

a.     Marriage vows
b.     Commitment to serving God
c.     Reading the Word
d.     Paying our tithes and offerings
e.     Commitments made to others
f.       Being on time
g.     Being a person of integrity 

2.     Returning what we have borrowed from others.  One of the most common ways to damage our reputation (name) is by not returning money, possessions, or “promises” to others.  In fact, it is stealing – that is if you go by the Hebrew definition.  The Word even goes as far as calling us “wicked” if we don’t (Psalm 37:21).  Most people borrow without making any record of what and when they borrowed.  This is usually because when we borrow, we are suffering with such urgency to obtain relief from what we are missing that we borrow out of desperation.  Bad habit.  If there is anything we have borrowed and have not yet returned, we are stealing.  It doesn’t matter how much time has passed, or from whom we have borrowed it – by not returning it, we are breaking Christ’s mandate (Word) within us.  Let’s examine the short list: 

a.     Money
b.     Books
c.     Tools
d.     Food
e.     Pen or pencil
f.       Clothes
g.     And the list goes on from here 

3.     Justly weighing all decisions and transactions.  One of the passages that remains uncomfortable for me is Proverbs 16:11, “A just weight and scales belong to the LORD; all the weights of the bag are His concern” (NASB). This means that God’s watches us in every decision made – seeking to discover if we will be honest in all of our transactions.  Any form of dishonesty in one of our decisions is not only stealing, it is sin.  Since we have no power to be just and balanced, we must rely upon Christ in us to do so.  If we tip the scale even but an ounce, God considers it an abomination (Prov. 11:1).  The Word refers to it as a false weight or measure, which is called stealing.

"Can I justify wicked scales and a bag of deceptive weights? For the rich men of the city are full of violence, her residents speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. So also I will make you sick, striking you down, Desolating you because of your sins. You will eat, but you will not be satisfied, and your vileness will be in your midst. You will try to remove for safekeeping, But you will not preserve anything, and what you do preserve I will give to the sword. You will sow but you will not reap. You will tread the olive but will not anoint yourself with oil; and the grapes, but you will not drink wine” (Micah 6:11-15, NASB).

In order to avoid being desolated because of this sin, we need to carefully examine the ways we may be yielding to our flesh to gain versus allowing Christ in us to breed contentment. 

a.     Being late for appointments
b.     Choosing the largest portion of that which we are sharing
c.     Stealing from our employment (time, pencils, etc.)
d.     Not fulfilling our job description at work
e.     Taking things without asking – assuming
f.       Failing to claim defects we caused and returning the item for a new one
g.     Exaggerating
h.     Negotiating a deal that puts the seller in loss of profit
i.       Taking sick days when we’re not sick
j.       Etc.   

4.     Accepting gain when it comes from another person’s loss – gambling.  God not only condemns unjust gain, He causes loss in the person who plays such games.  Most would be shocked if they knew just how much of the world’s financial system is based on gambling with the hard earned monies of others.  Did you know that after we deposit our hard earned check in the bank, our banks are gambling it away in the stock market that very night?  They are hoping to return it to our account by the next morning without any repercussions.  Yes, that is what happens as we sleep.  The bank is counting on the system of gambling (stocks) to be stable enough that we will never know our money was missing.  Normally, in a healthy economy, it works; but in a failing economy, it doesn’t.  This is the very topic in the news as I write this.  Riots are presently occurring on Wall Street because people are catching on to what I just stated.  God obligates Himself to implode the system that makes money off of the losses of others.  The bottom line is: there is a lasting damage to any person’s name (or country) that profits by the losses of other.

“How blessed is he who considers the helpless; The LORD will deliver him in a day of trouble. The LORD will protect him and keep him alive, And he shall be called blessed upon the earth; and do not give him over to the desire of his enemies” (Psalms 41:1-2, NASB).

Here are a few of the ways that we gamble:

a.     Lottery
b.     Gambling in general
c.     Making and selling things that hurt people
d.     Manipulating people into buying things they don’t need
e.     Taking advantage of people who suffer financially
f.       Playing the stock market
g.     Etc. 

5.     Don’t be late in paying those bills.  Being a representative of the name of Jesus Christ reveals itself in the most practical way – that of paying our bills on time.  And on those months when we simply cannot, communicate with the creditor and come up with a plan.  To withhold payment is to begin the stealing process.  Proverbs 3:28 tells us, “Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ When you have it with you” (NASB). If we have it, we should pay it.  God always has great reasons for His order.  When we withhold, it puts the lender in a position of being tempted to sin.  Our actions can cause a chain reaction of sin if we don’t pay our bills.  When payments are late, we are telling our bill collectors that our word is worth nothing and if we are indwelt Christians – it says God’s Word is worthless. "Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me' ” (Matt. 25:45).

6.     Be sure to associate and get counsel from wise people.  This final requirement is probably one of the most important.  Today, most Christians do not have the ability to make wise decisions.  This is why we need mentors and counselors.  We need guidance to make decisions that promote the name of Jesus Christ.  Remember, other people will weigh the name of Jesus Christ through our actions.  Sure, we end up with a “bad name”- but worse is that we give Jesus Christ a “bad name.”  Although, in God’s reality, that is not possible; but our actions certainly do affect our Lord.
Our decisions reflect our identity. With most of us, well, let’s just say we project our Savior as: a gambler, a man of debt, one who borrows and does not return what’s borrowed, unjust in the market place, one who makes a living off of other people’s losses, one who won’t pay His bills on time, and one who Himself associates with unwise counsel.  Wow – that is almost too much to get my brain around!  What we do unto the people around us is what is done to Christ.  That might be a disturbing thought to many, but it is overwhelmingly true.

It would be good of us to examine the key factors of maintaining and representing the name and reputation of Jesus Christ.  To honor Christ is to know Him and to know Him is to be identified with His character.