A Good Name

Proverbs 22:1

A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1).

When Solomon talked about “a good name,” he was referring to one’s reputation. This word means “a mark or memorial of individuality; by implication…character” (Strong’s). It is that for which a person is known.

What are we known for? How important is it to have “a good name”? Let us consider these questions.

The Comparison

Solomon made a comparison between “a good name” and “great wealth.” If we can only have one of these, it is far more important and worthwhile to have the “good name.

But why did Solomon make this comparison? It was not just because both have value – though it is certainly true that both are worth a great deal. In addition to the fact that both have value, they are both obtained, maintained, and retained in much the same way. We will notice the parallels in this article.

How to Have Great Wealth

Be willing to work – It is necessary for us to be willing to work (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The wise man said, “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23). In speaking of elders, Paul expressed this principle: “The laborer is worthy of his wages” (1 Timothy 5:18). In other words, when one works, he earns fair compensation for that work.

Do work that is profitable – There is a such thing as “empty pursuits” (Proverbs 28:19). We can work very hard at something that no one will pay us for doing. It does not matter if one is willing to work sixteen hours a day in a factory if he can be replaced by a machine that will do the same work more efficiently and cost-effectively. This is part of laboring “with wisdom” (Ecclesiastes 2:21). Our work must be valuable to others.

Do not squander your wealth – Jesus described the prodigal son who “squandered his estate with loose living” and “spent everything” and became “impoverished” (Luke 15:11-14). We are to be good stewards of the blessings we receive from God. The wise man said, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22). This is not possible if one wastes his material blessings on worthless things.

Invest wisely – The principle of investing to grow wealth is found in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-28). Different investments yield different returns. One type of investment may simply produce interest (Matthew 25:27). Another type of investment could result in one doubling his money (Matthew 25:20, 22). It takes wisdom to make proper investments.

How to Have a Good Name

After considering what is necessary to have great wealth, let us see how these points parallel those things that are required to have “a good name.

Work for it – One’s reputation is based upon action. Henry Ford said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” This is a Biblical principle. The wise man said, “Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man?” (Proverbs 20:6). There is a difference between what one says and does. Words alone are meaningless. This is why John wrote, “Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18).

Do good work – Just as not all work is profitable, not all deeds lead to a good name. What do people see in us? We should be known for “good works” (Matthew 5:16), though not as the world might define them. The “good works” to which Jesus referred were those that are found in the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We should be known for following God’s word. The result of this is that we will “find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:4).

Do not forfeit your reputation – We can undo years of our positive example through one sin. Benjamin Franklin said, “It takes many good deeds to build a reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” We can always be forgiven by God (1 John 1:9), but it can take a long time before others trust us. When John Mark left Paul on his first preaching journey, the apostle did not trust him to go along on the second journey (Acts 13:13; 15:36-39). Not only will others not trust us, but our influence can be compromised. Paul knew that if he gave “cause for offense in anything,” it could result in his work of preaching being “discredited” in the minds of those who heard him (2 Corinthians 6:3).

Be consistent over your lifetime – A good reputation will grow over time. Having “a good reputation” is one of the qualifications for elders in the church (1 Timothy 3:7). Those who would serve in this role must be known for what is good. Of course, we can always repent and do what is right, but “a good name” takes time to build. Therefore, we need to commit or recommit now to developing “a good name.

Conclusion

The value of wealth is universally recognized, but “a good name” is far more valuable. We should strive to do what is necessary to build and keep our reputation – not just so others will view us a certain way, but so that we can be approved to God.


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