reputation7 A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume.  In the same way, the day you die is better than the day you are born.

 -Ecclesiastes 7:1 New Living Translation (NLT)

One of the things I am enjoying the most about this vacation is the chance to sit in the morning and listen to he waves as they hit the shore.  I admit I was hoping for some bigger waves as I have never seen Lake Superior this calm, but the sound is soothing, and it is a great place to sit and meet with God in the morning as I read, pray, and journal.  I wish I had a spot like this at home.

So as I was continuing in Ecclesiastes this morning I hit chapter 7 and was a bit confused at the first verse.  The first half made sense, but as I read the second I hit a wall.  I was not sure how the day I die is better than the day I was born.  (At least for me anyway. I am sure there are some people who think that will be a fantastic day!) Combine that with the phrase, “In the same way…” and you can see my confusion.  I started to read on, but I kept coming back to that verse as this was something that I needed to look at and chew on.  Well, I am not a seminary student, but this is what I believe God gave me from the verse.

Reputation and Death

We all earn a reputation during our lives.  Some of it we want, and some of it we don’t, but when we leave this earth, that is all we are going to leave behind.  A reputation is something that we earn through our responses to the events of our lives. It is the choices we make in how we treat people, how we conduct ourselves, how we react to the hard things, the way we help people.  All of these things culminate in our reputation, and they all require one thing – action.

Our lives are full of working on our reputations.  It is a 24 hour job whether we realize it or not!  We can decide what we want to focus on, but we can’t choose to decline reputation building.  There is only one way to get out of it and that is our death.  When we die, the struggle for reputation, position, notoriety comes to an end.  We are who we were.  Our memory may fade away, but we aren’t making any  more changes.

Perfume and Birth

Perfume was originally used in ancient times as a way to give an offering to gods.  We read in the Old Testament how incense was burned in the Tabernacle and then the Temple to God.  Eventually, perfume became something different, and people started to use it to cover up their body odor.  It became a mask to prevent people from “sensing” certain things about you and your bathing habits.  It was a false representation of a reality.

When we are born, we are “perfect” in the eyes of our parents.  we coo, giggle, and laugh.  We do all sorts of cute little things that make us appealing to those around us, but when you think about it, we are still harboring within us something that is bad.  We have a sin nature that is there underneath it all, and we are going to have to come to grips with that some day in the same way that a person wearing perfume will eventually have to face the fact that they need a bath!

I realize that a baby is not consciously covering a sin nature, but the truth of the matter is that it is there.  There is something there that will eventually come to light, and it will have to be dealt with.

So, What?

I have a reputation.  I am working on it right now as I write this blog.  I will be working on it later today as I tour waterfalls with my family.  The question is who am I working for?  I will leave a reputation behind me one day, and I want that reputation to be one that brings honor to God, not me.  I want people to look at my life and say that they saw God working in it.  I want people who come in contact with me to be changed for the better because of what God is doing in me.  I want to continue to grow and learn from others through relationships.  I want to be real and not a perfumed fake!

When I die, I want a legacy left behind rather than a clean slate.  There are so many possibilities in youth, but the experiences of life are what really matter.  I am finding it strange as I grow older that while I might miss the stamina of youth, I would not want to go back and repeat it.  There was fun, but there were a lot of painful lessons as well. I’m smarter for them, but I would not want to repeat them.  Why go back? There are still things to learn, and there are still choices to make.  There is still a reputation to be built.

I started out this morning very confused by a verse, but I am now very encouraged by it.  I have a real life, and facing the reality of it is better than a fake life or a life not yet lived.  God is with me, and He is guiding me even when I struggle with that fact. I’m just thankful that He cares enough about me to continue to work on me for His glory.

I hope this made sense to anyone who is reading it. Comments and discussions are always welcome!

In HIS Grip,


Author: Tom Tanner

I'm a follower of Christ, husband, and father. Over the last few years I have been learning how to dig deeper into God's Word and letting it influence more of my life. As I learn, try, fail, and repeat in this process I am seeing God's hand more and more in my life and that of my family as well. This journey is long, hard, and at times a little lonely, but living a Relentless life for Christ has rewards that reach beyond me and my family. My prayer is that it brings God glory and leaves a legacy that will show His influence in my life.

I would love to hear your comments here or e-mail them privately to

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