September 6, 2009
Here is an idea so quaint and antiquated that it actually makes sense: Your name is valuable. Don’t run out and try to sell it on eBay. It may not have that sort of worth. Instead, the value of your name is in direct proportion to your character. The formula is quite simple to sketch but extremely difficult to attain: “Good character = good name; bad character = bad name.”
The writer of Proverbs leads us to consider the value of a good name.
I. The Value of a Good Name (vv. 1-2)
We receive a name at birth and then spend our lives attaching meaning to it. We all know people who have built great value around their names. If you mention the name, people will remember something about that person’s character. The opposite is also true.
Verse 1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” The reason that is so important is that a person can have riches but a name that nearly incites riots. Think of Bernie Madoff.
The writer of Ecclesiastes agrees that your name is valuable: “A good name is better than fine perfume.” It leaves a pleasant fragrance in the air when it is spoken.
II. How to Achieve a Good Name (vv. 8-9)
So how do we achieve a good name? We do so by choosing righteous behavior over wicked action.
Verses 8 and 9 give a portrait of two ways of living. The first way is to squander our lives by living as if no one else matters.
Wickedness is an extreme form of selfishness. During the Great Depression Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics.”
The second way is the life of openness and generosity. This man shares with others who have nothing. Generosity is a form of righteousness.
Achieving a good name also happens when we are careful with the reputation of others. This includes God. Deuteronomy 5:11 says, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.” Even God wants His name protected!
III. Actions to Keep a Good Name (vv. 22-23)
So you have worked hard to develop a good name. How do you keep it?
We keep a good name by remembering who we are. As followers of Jesus we commit ourselves to doing what is right all the time.
As verses 22-23 put it, we take care of those who can’t take care of themselves. We will not “exploit the poor because they are poor” or “crush the needy in court.”
People who forget this fact cause chaos in their lives and in society at large. Those whose greed claimed the lifetime savings of millions may never know the devastation they caused. This tongue-in-cheek list helps explain how bad things have gotten:
• CEO’s now play miniature golf.
• HotWheels and Matchbox stocks are trading higher than GM.
• McDonald’s now is selling the quarter-ouncer.
• The most high-paid job is now jury duty.
• Motel 6 won’t leave the light on.
Always remember that your name is valuable. Build it up and make it worth something. May it be that people smile and thank God for you whenever your name is mentioned.