A person’s reputation is a very fragile thing. What has taken a person a lifetime to build can be destroyed in very short order, especially with today’s social media and internet access. It can be destroyed by something the person has actually done or by those wishing to destroy that person for personal gain–as in monetary gain or a career advantage, self-protection, or any number of other reasons to include jealousy, hatred, or rage. Often it can be a combination of both (something the person has actually done and the exploitation of it by others) by taking a person’s vulnerabilities (and we all have skeletons in our closets) and exploiting them in an attempt to totally destroy that person’s credibility and life.
It’s called character assassination (see definition below):
Character assassination is a deliberate and sustained process that aims to destroy the credibility and reputation of a person, institution, social group, or nation. Agents of character assassinations employ a mix of open and covert methods to achieve their goals, such as raising false accusations, planting and fostering rumors, and manipulating information.
Character assassination is an attempt to tarnish a person’s reputation. It may involve exaggeration, misleading half-truths, or manipulation of facts to present an untrue picture of the targeted person. It is a form of defamation and can be a form of ad hominem argument.
For living individuals targeted by character assassination attempts, this may result in being rejected by their community, family, or members of their living or work environment. Such acts are often difficult to reverse or rectify, and the process is likened to a literal assassination of a human life. The damage sustained can last a lifetime or, for historical figures, for many centuries after their death (quote source here).
A legal definition of character assassination from USLegal.com is as follows:
Character assassination refers to the slandering or vicious personal verbal attack on a person with the intention of destroying or damaging that person’s reputation or confidence. In other words it is malicious verbal assaults designed to damage or tarnish the reputation of a person. Once done, these acts are often difficult to reverse or rectify. Therefore it is likened to a literal assassination of a human life. The damage sustained can last a lifetime or, for historical figures and important personalities, for many centuries after their death.
It involves a deliberate attempt to destroy a person’s reputation, especially by criticizing them in an unfair and dishonest way when they are not present. It can also involve exaggeration or manipulation of facts to present an untrue picture of the targeted person, double speak, spreading of rumors, innuendo or deliberate misinformation on topics relating to the subject’s morals, integrity, and reputation. It is a form of defamation (quote source here).
“Defamation” is defined as “Any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person’s reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person” (quote source here). It is, in fact, a deliberate attempt by others to destroy a person’s reputation and life.
There are a host of Bible characters whose reputations and lives were tarnished by others and sometimes by their own actions, too, yet God never took his hand off of them and used them in a mighty way for his own purposes. Hebrews 11 is filled with the names of people who never lost their faith in God, and it was obvious by their actions (and not by their flaws). Some of those named are Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Samson, David, and others mentioned without names in that chapter.
As much as we want to maintain and hang on to a good reputation, we cannot stop what others, especially those more powerful or with more connections, can do to us. I’m reminded of what happened to a woman doctor I saw back in August 2011 in a town I used to live in who was essentially “run out of town” and put out of business through a number of truly horrible things that people did to her through no fault of her own (see “Dinsmore Defense” at this link).
Dr. Dinsmore was recommended to me by an agency that helped those without financial resources but in need of medical assistance in the town where I lived and where Dr. Dinsmore’s office was located (which was a few miles north of where the hospital is located where she had privileges). I wrote about what happened to me three years ago in two back-to-back blog posts titled, “From Ripped-Off to Renewal” (dated August 25, 2011), and “A Very Good Ending to a Very Bad Week” (dated August 26, 2011), when I needed medical assistance for an infection I received from a medication I had been given at another “nationwide” clinic but that clinic would not help me. I also sought help at several other clinics in town; however, for one reason or another, they could not help me and I got shuffled around. That is when I decided to go to Dr. Dinsmore’s office.
As it turned out, Dr. Dinsmore was a Godsend to me. After a truly horrible week of trying to find anyone to help me with this infection (caused by a medication given to me at another clinic) she and her staff were the brightest spot in it. She was gracious and kind and only charged me $20 plus lab fees and gave me a prescription for what I needed with four refills. Of course, I had no idea when I saw her of the horror story that she was going through in her own life at that time.
The people involved in destroying her reputation and medical practice were able to literally take away her hospital privileges which effectively shut down her practice (her specialty was/is OB/GYN), and forced her to leave that town where she had practiced for several years. And the main motivation for closing her practice down was money (her story is available at this link). It took her over a year and relocating to the Midwest to reestablish her career and her reputation. And in November 2012, she was exonerated of any wrongdoing by the Governor’s office (see link) but not after substantial financial loss to her and her family which forced her to leave the community and destroyed her reputation as a doctor in that community.
It wasn’t until a year ago in August 2013 when I needed another prescription for this same medication (I rarely ever needed it but for some reason the infection was reoccurring while I lived in that town–I used to joke that it had to be something in the water there) that I went back to her office (two years later), which was surrounded by other businesses, and I discovered it was closed down. When I inquired at a nearby business what happened to her medical practice they said they didn’t know but that she had been closed down for a while. When I got back home I did an internet search for her and, of course, was shocked when I found the website above and how she was literally run out of town all because of greed/money (although after reading the entire website I can see there were other reasons but money was the main one).
Dr. Dinsmore absolutely did not deserve what happened to her. This goes to show that no matter how much we try to keep or preserve a good reputation, others with ill intent and ulterior motives can, quite effectively, destroy a person and their reputation, including their ability to earn an income. Fortunately, in Dr. Dinsmore’s case, she was eventually exonerated by the Governor’s office of any wrongdoing and is still able to practice her profession. Unfortunately, she had to go through hell to get there not to mention substantial financial loss to her and her family as well as her reputation. And all because of vicious people with power who loved money.
We like to say (and it is true) that God is a God of love, but he is also a God of justice. I’m reminded of what the apostle Paul had to say to the Christians in Rome in Romans 2:11–e.g., that God does not show favoritism. Let’s read that passage in context (Romans 2:1-11):
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.
We cannot guard our reputation from the ill intent of others who only want to harm us in order to receive gain for themselves in come way (often but not always monetary). And we often cannot protect ourselves from the harm that they have caused us, but we can trust ourselves to God who is not only a God of great love, kindness, and mercy, but a God of justice. And it helps to remember the advice and instructions given to us by the apostle Paul in Romans 12:17-21, especially when others have tried or keep trying to destroy us in some way:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
I can more than imagine what Dr. Dinsmore went through while she was going through it. And I am grateful that in the midst of all of her losses, she was able to get reestablished again in her profession and move on. And I am grateful that the Governor’s office exonerated her from all the wrongdoing that she was accused of doing that destroyed her reputation and her livelihood in that community, and her accusers did it all for the sake of their own monetary gain.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (I Timothy 6:10). So why don’t we believe this, especially here in America? Greed blinds people. And destroying someone else to get what we want is never God’s way. Never. . . .
Our dependence upon God is far more valuable than our reputation with man. So the question we need to ask ourselves is this: Are we willing to being faithful to God and let him have control of our lives? “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). In other words . . .
Do we care more about our own personal gain and how to get it . . .
Or do we care more about God who is our rewarder . . .
The answer is quite revealing . . . .
YouTube Video: “Your Love Oh Lord” by Third Day: