"Dear Santa, ..."
Don't you love to read the little notes kids write to Santa? They've heard the song; they know that "he knows if you've been bad or good," so they usually like to tell him JUST how good they've been. You have to establish a reputation that Santa will approve of if you're going to get what's on your wish list.
But then kids grow up and they grow out of Santa Claus. They trade the philosophy of "be good for goodness sake" for the philosophy of other songs - frequently the philosophy of Billy Joel's 'My Life.' "Either way, it's OK; you wake up with yourself." The only person your reputation should matter to is you. If you can live with yourself, who cares what anybody else thinks.
The problem is that the "he sees you ... he knows you" lyrics were ascribed in error to Santa Claus. God is the one those lyrics apply to. He does, in fact, see you all the time and is intimately aware of your goodness or lack thereof. Your reputation does matter to Him. And in the end, it's not whether you can look yourself in the mirror and feel self-satisfied, it's whether God can look at you and exclaim, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"
Three followers of Christ are mentioned by name in the brief Third Epistle of John - Gaius, Diotrephes and Demetrius. Each one had established a reputation for themselves. John is an elder of the Christian community at this point and sees the members of Christ's body, the church, as his children. And so he writes, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." This is the joy desired by tens of thousands of Christian parents and elders of the church. This is the joy of the Lord Himself. We ought to bless our God with the reputation we are building for walking in the truth.
Gaius has a good reputation; he is faithful and persevering in the truth. His love and hospitality for fellow Christians, though strangers to him at first, is commendable.
Diotrephes, on the other hand, has some work to do. Although a leader in the church, he is self-aggrandizing, a gossip and a liar, and a careless tyrant. John says he is going to call him on it when he gets there. Even so, God is definitely going to call him on it.
Demetrius has a much better reputation than that. He is spoken well of by everyone, which in one sense might only speak to his popularity. But John says "the truth" speaks well of him also. I take this to mean that his way of life is consistent with God's truth. He measures up well next to the measuring rod of the Word as well as the measure of popular opinion.
How's your reputation? Make it good. Not for goodness' sake; but for the Name's sake (v. 7). That is, for the sake of God's reputation in the world.
Oh, yes. Our reputation is inextricably linked to His.
Pray: As your follower, help me Lord to be keenly aware that my reputation reflects on Your reputation. I represent You, your Name and Your family in the world. Help me always to honor you and make Your reputation great. Then mine will take care of itself.