When wickedness comes, so does contempt,
and with shame comes reproach.
One would think that a truth so obvious would have a sobering effect on the wicked. And yet, far from avoiding behavior that leads to disgrace, they all the more pursue their immoral and wicked ways, even basking in the notoriety that results. For the wicked are also fools who mistake shame for honor and contempt for respect. They value the praise and respect of other fools and disdain the opinion of the wise and honorable. They also value being in the spotlight for whatever reason. If it must take wicked behavior to stand out, then so be it. Indeed, that is the behavior they enjoy most.
But we should desire an honorable reputation earned by exhibiting integrity, love for our neighbor, and devotion to our Lord. As Christians, we can expect to be slandered, but it should be just that – slander, and not a true report. Our neighbors ought to be perplexed by us, finding our beliefs odd and yet acknowledging that we are trustworthy, caring neighbors.
But the reputation most important is our reputation before God. He alone knows fully our hearts; he alone judges rightly; before him alone we will stand to give an account for our lives. Desire now to live in such a way that honors our Lord; for truly no better reward can we gain than to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
1 Thessalonians 1
Paul, Silas[a] and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace and peace to you.
Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians’ Faith
2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
4 For we know, brothers and sisters[b] loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.