Osama bin Laden. What comes to mind when you hear this name? 9/11. Hijacked commercial airliners. The World Trade Centers. Death. Destruction. The face of terrorism. Al Qaeda. Islamic extremism. The list could go on.

A bad name hurts in more ways than a good name helps the individual who bears it. There is a stigma associated with a bad name which hovers over a person’s every word and action. Not only does it hurt him, but it tarnishes the names of all who associate with him.

Is a person born with such a stigma? Of course not. It takes work to build it up. Bad decision after bad decision, failed expectation after failed expectation, with never an admission of wrongdoing or an effort to amend the actions in between, a bad name slowly materializes.

You might say, “I don’t care what others think of me. If they can’t accept me for who I am, that’s their problem.” Others’ opinions of us matter very little, but if our bad name is a result of our poor judgment or foolish actions, we need to strive to fix the problem for the sake of our Christian testimony.

God cares if you have a bad name. Does yours carry a negative stigma? Are you known as a person who has an explosive temper, a negative spirit, a gossiping tongue, or an easily offended temperament? Commit your faults to the Lord, and pray that He would help you build a good name.

No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.