Read: Genesis 39:1-13
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… Proverbs 23:7
Benedict Arnold was well-respected among his peers for his intelligence and bravery during the American War for Independence. He was wounded in battle several times and had to be relieved of his combat duties for some time because his leg had been shattered. He was promoted to major general after he captured Fort Ticonderoga; and by all accounts, he had a reputation for being a very loyal American officer. However, other officers claimed credit for victories that he was responsible for, and he was passed over for promotions that he thought he should have received. It was at that point that Benedict Arnold started negotiations with the British that would land him the role of one as the most notorious traitors in history. In exchange for an annual salary and a step-down position of brigadier general, he plotted to turn over the plans to West Point that would allow the British to easily capture the strategic location. His true character had been revealed.
Your reputation is what characterizes you to all those around you. Your reputation is what everyone thinks you are. It takes many years to build up a good reputation – years of telling the truth, years of working hard, years of walking uprightly, and years of staying away from evil. Deep down in your heart, though, you may be a completely different person. It may never show on the outside, but that is the real you. The things you look at may never be seen by another person; the things you listen to may never be heard by another person; the friends you talk to and hang out with may never be revealed to those who know your reputation, but those are the things that define your character. How you act on the outside is just the show everyone sees, but what you do in private is what God sees and will judge someday.
What would you do if you knew there was no possible way you would ever be caught? Which movies would you watch? To what places would you go? Who would become your companions? Those are the factors that define who you really are. Benedict Arnold had the reputation of being a faithful soldier, but his true character revealed itself when he thought he would not be caught.
Reputation is what people think you are; character is who you are on the inside. Live so that your character is greater than your reputation.