I have in my hands a glass of water. I got this water from a bottle of sparkling spring water. It’s clean, free of impurities, just plain pure water. On a hot day, a nice, cold glass of water like this looks pretty good, doesn’t it? But what happens if I do this
(Using an eyedropper, drop a few drops of food color, dye, or ink into the water.)
What’s happened to the water? It’s not pure any more, is it? You can still see through it, but it’s become polluted. If I drop more in here, it’ll become even cloudier. It’s not so appealing any more, is it? You’d have to be pretty desperate to drink this water.
You know, we can add more water to the glass and reduce the pollution. But no matter how much more water we add, it’s still going to be polluted.
A clean glass of water is like a good reputation. If people know you to be honest, polite, a person who obeys their parents and follows rules, they see you like the clean glass of water. But it only takes one lie, one act of sin, to pollute the water. Suddenly, people don’t see you the same way, do they? And you can work and work all you want to improve your reputation, but that sin is still going to be there. The only way to truly restore this glass of water is to dump it out, rinse it, and fill it up again. The only person who can do that for us is Jesus.
Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” It’s hard to maintain that good reputation, and none of us stays perfectly spotless. But it’s a lot harder to clean up a bad reputation once it’s gone bad. That’s why we must always be careful to tell the truth, to be obedient, and live a life like Christ so that our reputations don’t become polluted by sin.