We have all done this. The one and only interaction that you had with someone was a bad one. You left a bad impression. Someone caught you on your worst behavior. Someone caught you on your worst day. Someone caught you in the heat of your anger and frustration. You were rude. You were mean. You were short. You were arrogant. You were proud. You were jealous. You were horny. You were apathetic. You were unholy. You were in your flesh.
It was the one and only time he, she or they interacted with you on a personal level, and you were at your worst behavior.
You were out of your character, but they didn’t know that. It was a lapse in your character, but they were left thinking…that’s just how you are.
Even though we are commanded to love one another, you gave them a good reason to not like you.
That person or those people were left thinking you weren’t a very good person.
Well who in the bible left a horrible first impression ? Let’s look at one well know example…the Apostle Paul.
We all know that Paul was passionate in his persecution of the church. His first impression was negative to countless Christians whom he persecuted, and his reputation preceded him.
Acts 8:3 (NKJV)
3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
Galatians 1:13-14 (NKJV)
13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
But, once Paul was converted, he began to build a new reputation, which took time. He was even more passionate and more zealous for sharing the word of God than he was when he persecuted the church.
1 Corinthians 15:9-10 (NKJV)
9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Through his labor and his sincere effort to share God’s word and God’s love, Paul built a new reputation, and many of those who knew him to be a persecutor of the church recognized him as a devout preacher whom they didn’t fear, but respected.
Galatians 1:23 (NKJV)
23 But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.”
You may never get an opportunity to see those people again, but if you do, make sure they see the real you, no matter how they act.
You have to work hard just as Paul did to leave behind enough new good impressions to outweigh the bad. You have to continue to prove that those bad impressions were not your true character.
You have to establish your reputation so that if any of those people who you hurt, snapped at, provoked to sin, left a bad impression can’t help but think… “That wasn’t him or her”.
Of course, there will be some people who will always be convinced you are the bad person that you introduced to them, but overall, just like Paul, you will be known for who your are.
God has promised that your good character and integrity will protect and preserve you…
Psalm 25:21 (NKJV)
21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
For I wait for You.