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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– But made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.  And, in fashion as a man, he (Jesus) humbled himself and became obedient unto death – even the death of the Cross. – Philippians 2:7-8

– Serving our own interest to the neglect of Jesus is a very great sin.  It is common among Christians and ministers.  Many prefer their own credit, ease, and safety – before truth, holiness, and duty.  The things of their own pleasure and reputation before the things of Christ and giving honor to God. – Matthew Henry

After Jesus cleansed a certain leper, the leper was instructed to say nothing about it to any man – but only to show himself to a priest in a city where they both resided.  The leper did not listen.  Instead, he began to publish the event much, and blazed abroad about the miracle … to the point where Christ could not enter into this city openly (Mark 1:40-45).  There would just be too much attention centered on Jesus.

During the Feast of the Tabernacles, some of Christ’s brethren questioned his obvious desire to shun the public spotlight and remain unspotted as much as possible (James 1:27).  They said, “Go into Judea, so your disciples may also see the works you do.  For there is no man who does anything in secret, and he himself seeks to be known openly.  If you do these things, show yourself to the world (John 7:3-4).”

These words were all born out of unbelief (John 7:5). Jesus was not acting or talking like a king of earthly reputation would – much less an eternal king.  Christ did not show any cravings for notoriety, nor showed any desire for some sort of status in society.  Jesus simply went about his Father’s business quietly (Luke 2:49), humbly obeying Him all the way to the Cross. Dying there so we would learn to live the same way.

All reputations, good, bad, or in between are of this world.  They show God continued conformance to it, and not being transformed by truth (Romans 12:1-2). Positive reputations can bring a certain amount of prestige and praise, while negative ones can bring a lot of problems and pain.  People who have the latter can squander precious time attempting to repair and restore broken images by external methods or means.

Whatever reputations do or don’t do, they are all in direct opposition to God’s Word.  No matter how they are created or destroyed, they are not in alignment or agreement with His will.  Climbing up the corporate ladder to fame and making a name, or the Christian rungs to do the same, is not why God put us here on earth.  It is to stay humbly obedient to His way until death, so we might be saved (e.g. Hebrews 9:15).

Sadly, and with eternal consequences if not corrected, the modern church has been creating a idolatrous culture of celebrity Christian singers, writers, and speakers for decades.  Some of these people are of great repute and have attained cult-like followings. But, they are grievous wolves drawing disciples away for themselves.  Speaking perverse things for profit, and to preserve their reputation (Acts 20:29-30).

This all may seem new, but it’s not (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).  Moses dealt with 250 princes in his assembly who rose up against him and Aaron.  Men of renown, with reputations, and all famous in the congregation (Numbers 16:2).  Paul spoke of those who seemed to be somebody, but it made no difference to him.  They didn’t add anything to his teachings as God respects no man’s person (Romans 2:11, Galatians 2:6).

God has several thoughts regarding all of this.  Read what the prophet Daniel writes about it: “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing.  And, He does according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.  None can stay His hand and say to Him, ‘What are You doing (Daniel 4:35)?'”  Still, there is someone who wants us to think differently when it comes to reputations.

The deceiver of this world (Revelation 12:9) and its prince (John 14:30), Satan, does a very good job in convincing even the most steadfast Christians they must maintain a certain image in life to present to others; a religious reputation to uphold.  This is a device the devil uses to trick believers into thinking they’re standing firm in faith.  But, it’s only upon their reputation, and not the foundation of Jesus – if at all.

This is how Christians fall from repentance and grace (Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 12:15) – and can end up finding no space in heaven.  It is how they give place to Satan and fall into his same condemnation, as good reputations tend to puff people up in pride (Ephesians 4:27, 1 Timothy 3:6).  Having one pushes God to the sidelines, unless He seems to be helping them keep their high esteem and good standing before others.

Instead of having the same before Him.  What keeps us in our Father’s esteem, good standing, and favor, is repenting of things like desires to have a reputation – along with the haughty airs having one can bring. Yes, it is true we are created in His image, but this does not mean we are born with His attributes.  To obtain them, we’re commanded to produce spiritual fruits not usually esteemed among men (Luke 16:15).

The humble example of Christ is set before us in the Bible.  Learning Jesus is not a recommendation from God to contemplate (Ephesians 4:20-32).  It is not something to mull over, but a commandment to obey. Desires for the fleeting praise and prestige worldly admiration can bring, along with the advantage of reputations, are dangerous ways to defy God, and to face consequences for doing so (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

–  Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. – Ephesians 5:4

– Foolish talking and jesting aren’t the ways in which Christian cheerfulness should ever express itself, but rather giving of thanks.  A relationship with Jesus is the source of all joy and gladness in life.  Expressed in gratitude and praise, not jokes – from Charles Hodge

The word jesting means to joke around, fool around, tease, and make wise cracks.  It can involve tossing around a little sarcasm now and then.  Intents to jest are behind the generation of comedy routines and sketches.  However, even if done in social situations, usually among family and friends well-acquainted with each other, it is often labeled as “just having fun.”

However, there isn’t anything funny about faith, and there isn’t anything comical about Christianity – or being a believer.  All foolish talking leads to foolish walking, and not redeeming the time wisely as God commands us to (Ephesians 5:15-16).  Christ did not go around cracking jokes, poking fun at people, or engaging in good-natured ribbing with any person.

We never read of Jesus saying things like “I didn’t mean to hurt you with that joke.  I was just kidding.” Christ only spoke words given by God (John 12:49), and God does not joke around.  Eternity is not a laughing matter.  It is nothing to make light of, – as the marriage dinner parable points out (Matthew 22:1-5).  There isn’t any levity in being left behind.

God warns us throughout His Word about the effect our words have on others.  Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).  However, mouths speak out of the heart’s abundance (Luke 6:45).  Filling up on the world brings forth foolish talking, wise cracking, sarcasm, and jesting.  Filling up on the Word brings forth joy in Jesus; not jokes.

No matter how harmless any attempts at humor may seem, they can stab at, then pierce somebody’s heart (Proverbs 12:18).  Reopening emotional wounds from years ago, scars the recipient of the jesting thought were finally healed.  New damage and pain perhaps never intended is created, even if the injured soul laughs it off like it did not hurt – when it really did.

As innocent as jesting might appear, it is not godly. Seemingly gentle teasing can easily cross the line into some taunting, an emotional form of bullying.  Making wise cracks is not only showing a lack of wisdom, but failing to ask God for it (James 1:5), so jesting stops. Sarcasm, from the Greek “sarkazein” (to strip off the flesh) – is a close cousin of scoffing and mockery.

Scoffing God will mark man’s last days as scores walk after their own lusts (2 Peter 3:3).  And, God will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7).  Both Abraham and Sarah scoffed at and mocked God’s promise to deliver them a child in their advanced ages (Genesis 17:17, 18:11-15).  Even though both laughed silently in their heart, God heard, and didn’t see any humor in the situation.

Justification of sins does not involve jesting, foolish talking is not expressing faith, and holiness does not include humor.  It all does involve humble obedience (Philippians 2:8), and mutual abidance (John 15:1-6). One cannot continue the “just kidding” comments of jesting, the wise cracking comedy of the old man, and learn Christ as commanded (Ephesians 4:20-32).

 

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