“Wolf! Wolf!” cried the boy. It was just a bit of fun, getting the villagers to run up the hill; relieve him from the boredom of looking after sheep day after day after day. Sure, they got mad at him, but hey! it was something different. Different was good; even being yelled at was preferable to boredom.
“Wolf! Wolf!” he cried again. The yelling continued. This time, it was harder to hide his smirk. Furious, the villagers tramped back down the hill again.
“Wolf! Wolf!” he cried once more – but this time, in fear. The wolf had come, and was ravaging the sheep. The villagers, wise to his tricks, paid no attention. And later, when the sheep were dead, the villagers’ anger at him knew no bounds.
The problem here? Besides the dead sheep: the boy hadn’t thought about what name he’d been making for himself. He’d thought his ‘game’ was just a bit of fun. Just jokes; perfectly harmless. And yet – what had eventuated? He’d made a name for himself. ‘Liar’, ‘untrustworthy’, ‘deceitful’. No-one believed him, even when he told the truth.
The question ‘what name are you making for yourself’ is one I’ve been discussing with my students recently. Our words, our actions, our attitudes towards others, define who we are. People recognize us by them. What impression do we give others of ourselves? And are we happy with the name we are making for ourselves? At the end of the day, are we going to be satisfied with the consequences of the choices we have made?
One of my favourite Bible verses is 1 Tim. 4:16. It says, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
If I profess to be a Christian, I need to watch that my life reflects this choice. Timothy tells me to watch my life – my choices, my attitudes – closely. And to persevere in this watching. So what name am I making for myself? Is my life one which reflects Christ’s? I’d invite you to ponder this question with me, and with my students, this week.
And have a wonderful week, dear Reader!