March 15

A Good Name, Part 1

Prov. 22:1a A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.

We live in a world often ruled by marketing, branding and polling. The truth of a person or a thing is sometimes considered less important than what other people think is the truth. Some go so far as to say that even character isn’t that important; performance is what really counts.

As Christians, we rightly back away from such concepts. We know that real character is more important than what others might believe, and we know that it’s a trap to care too much about others’ opinions of us.

But Proverbs 22 tells us that reputations are of great value. So if we’ve ever ventured into “I don’t care what people think about me” territory, we have missed something significant. (Usually that is a wall of defense we build around ourselves so we don’t feel the pain of people’s judgments.) We certainly can’t let people’s opinions hold too much sway, so that we are constantly second-guessing ourselves and keeping our eye on others instead of the Lord. But neither should we dismiss the importance of “a good name,” as if reputation is of no consequence. If the Lord says it’s better than great riches, there must be more to it than we might have thought.

So how do we get a good name? It’s a blessing from the Lord and the result of our actions—usually day-to-day actions over a period of time. Take Ruth, for example, who has one of the best reputations presented in the Old Testament. When she asked Boaz why she, a foreigner, had found favor with him, he answered, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel….” (Ruth 2:11-12)

Ruth made choices to follow the one true God, leave idolatry, and honor her mother-in-law with years of kind deeds. Her reputation wasn’t based on just one thing, but was built step by step and was based on her relationship with God and people. It took time, but the suspicious Moabitess living among the ancient Israelites came to be one of the most beloved and respected people in the community.

We’ll discuss more in the next couple of days how the Lord uses good reputations, but for now, let’s agree with Proverbs 22:1 (above) and with Ecclesiastes 7:1 that “A good name is better than precious ointment.”

Prayer: Lord, help me to view my own reputation rightly. Help me to care about it just to the degree that you do—and for Your reasons. Help me to value my good name over riches, and to work to build that good name over time. Please protect my name from the accusations of the enemy, and bring your blessing to it instead.

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