What If Your Reputation Is Unjustly Bad?

[Jesus] told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 14:7–11)

Jesus says it is better to be thought worse than you are, and then be publicly vindicated, than to be thought better than you are and then be publicly humiliated.

Yes, but what if you take the lowest seat and no one comes to invite you to the front? What if your reputation in this world is always worse among men than it is with God? What if your life is one continual false accusation (Matthew 5:11)? “We are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered” (Psalm 44:22; Romans 8:36). “We have become like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things” (1 Corinthians 4:13).

This parable does not promise that people will always come through for you. They won’t. Some will think you worse than you are till the day you die.

What this parable ultimately promises is that at the final wedding feast, Jesus himself will set things right. Your reputation will be vindicated. Truth will come out. The whole universe will know if your reputation was wrong.

So here’s the life-changing truth: It is better to be thought worse than you are now, and have the Lord set things right in the last day, than to be thought better than you are now, only to have Jesus put you in your place in the end.

In other words, don’t care much about whether your family and friends and acquaintances and enemies know what you are really like. Be true, be real, be humble, and let the Lord settle the matter in the end. In that day, the price of taking the lower place will be seen to be very small.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.