I find more people are interested in being seen as someone who does the right thing than I do people who just do the right thing despite how it may look. Character isn’t what people think, that’s reputation. Character is who you are when others aren’t looking.
This is a central tenant of the Pauline epistles. Remember, Paul spent a huge chunk of time in prison. His reputation was crap! But the Holy Spirit was able to use his life because of his character. It wasn’t that he was in chains, it was what he did while in chains.
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.Philippians 1:12-18a
“Has actually served to advance the Gospel”
You can hear the naysayers, right?
“I knew that Paul guy was bad news.”
“He’s probably stealing people’s money.”
“All of those religious people are really just crooks. See! He’s in jail…”
“I told you so.”
But that’s not what was happening at all. In fact, since Paul had done nothing wrong, each time he was jailed his message spread. Falsely imprisoned and eventually put to death his reputation didn’t diminish: Because of his character his reputation increased.
He saw that his time in prison “has actually served to advance the Gospel.”
Tell that to the board.
Paul is a Role Model
It’s as simple as that. Sure, my role in life is different. Sure, he’s been dead a couple millennia now. Sure, I really know nothing about his life other than what’s captured in the New Testament. And sure, I’m not in chains.
Paul is a role model. Don’t worry about your reputation, Paul’s life reminds us. Work on your character.