“Do your whole duty, and quietly leave to God the defense of your reputation.” So taught Archibald Alexander, founding professor of Princeton Seminary.
Alexander instructed prospective ministers positively to inculcate the truth, with clarity and ability, and to shun personal squabbles. It is the minister’s business to adorn the reputation of Jesus Christ, and to leave to God the defense of his own.
Proverbs 12:16 advises, “The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.” Would that such advice were more often taken. Those who possess the least integrity often defend themselves most vocally. But David sets a better example when he pleads in Psalm 26:1, “Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.”
Pastor, do you devote more energy to exalting the reputation of Jesus or to defending your own?
You need not be a pastor to welcome Alexander’s counsel, and the world will never accept it. Republicans chastise Democrats. Democrats chide Republicans. Fox News toots its own horn, while shaming NBC. NBC counters. Never an insult passes but that the world replies in kind. Retaliation rules the culture, and reputation fuels retaliation.
Instead, let confidence in the LORD rule every Christian heart.
The less we defend ourselves, the more we exalt Him who does.