Remember the adage, "Cheaters never prosper, cheaters never win"?
My mom took the character message a step further.
“Your good name is all you have,” she’d say. “Don’t let anyone take that from you.”
I have come to realize that may be easier said than done. Especially in the climate we now find ourselves.
In this culture of social media and living in an era where people are perceived as guilty until proven otherwise, it can be really tricky.
Folks are out to betray, sabotage or undermine at the drop of a hat.
Who knows what prompts this — insecurity, jealousy, resentment, the heady power of control?
And since I can only speak for myself, I will provide examples that I have experienced.
I can still remember the day I was at the drive-through of a bank in Raleigh and was told that my husband had cleaned out the account.
Wow. I was working while he was attending, get this, seminary. Yes, he was preparing to be a minister.
When I later remarried, the stakes were even higher as this time we had two children.
In that scenario, I still recall the day he canceled my cellphone and the afternoon I was shopping for clothes for my children at Wal-Mart — not even a high-end store — and discovered he had also canceled my credit cards.
If things come in threes, I'll round out with the time a few years ago, after I completed treatment for cancer, when my husband Ron was on the receiving of mistreatment when he called someone he thought he could trust to lend support.
Instead, the person took advantage of the opportunity and decided to say some pretty harsh things.
Point is, there will always be those who jump all over the chance to kick someone when they're down. Always.
We, however, get to choose how we react to this. Or if we react at all.
In the Bible there is a powerful antidote — that no weapon formed against us will prosper. Its message is to remind, and reassure, us that if we have faith in God and seek to be more like Him, He will take care of us and protect us from the evil intentions of others who try to destroy us.
I have clung to that scripture many, many times.
And no matter what human beings do, I can honestly say that God has never failed me.
Truthfully, it has been very cool to see that no weapon formed against me, or us, has prospered.
Even when it seems like other people "win" or best us, at least here on Earth, I am assured that God is the ultimate judge. I am very thankful that while I am not perfect, God has a better vantage point and He knows us best of all.
And while it's tempting to worry that anyone can "take" our good name, consider this message I happened upon recently that clarifies it quite nicely.
Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.