We are often told, 丑事不可外扬 (chou shi bu ke wai yang) – do not air your dirty laundry as it is shameful. We are told we will lose the respect of others if we do so.

In the Church, this thinking creates pressure for those who are serving in prominent roles to only reveal one’s good side and hide that which will tarnish one’s image.

But we are also called to live authentically as Christians. 

What then does an authentic life look like? It includes showing our true self to others, not hiding our weaknesses, struggles or failures just to maintain our good image.

“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” (2 Corinthians 1:12)

By intentionally hiding our weaknesses, struggles and failures from others, we are unconsciously creating an image that is based on deceit. When we choose to put up a carefully crafted image to safeguard our reputation, we are creating a well-oiled self-affirming machine that glosses over real character issues, ungodly beliefs and even sinful habits.

The only thing we will hear from others is how good we are. And as a result, we believe we are fine! This, in turn, usually leads to the denial of criticism that comes from those who are close to us and who actually see our weaknesses.

“…character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

The self-affirming machine will ultimately make us blind to the areas of potential growth in our lives, areas that are not yet Christlike.

Basketball Hall of Fame player and coach John Wooden once said: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

And doesn’t God Himself judge us by our true character rather than our reputation?

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Hiding our bad sides often includes leaving our shameful stories in the dark. But have we considered that we are actually depriving others from seeing God’s grace? We deprive them of seeing His mercies and His redeeming and transforming power that is at work in us.

In fact, the uglier our story, the more hope we give to others. But when we choose to hide all these instead of being authentic and true to who we are and the stories that make up our lives, we are again putting our own reputation before God’s redeeming grace and the glory that He deserves.

Instead, we must allow our stories to be used as powerful tools that will encourage others to repent.

Have we considered that we are actually depriving others from seeing God’s grace?

None of us are perfect. The status of being “a wretch like me” is not only when we first receive Christ as Saviour and Lord. We are still full of our sinful nature that needs to be transformed day by day.

Unless we share God’s redeeming and transforming power with our fellow brothers and sisters-in-Christ, His Kingdom does not benefit from our struggles. Think of it not as an airing of dirty laundry, but of a sharing of dirty laundry made clean.

Moreover, what the lost needs is not more information from us but rather our transformation and redemption stories that give them hope!

This article was first published on Yio Chu Kang Chapel’s website and is republished with permission.