A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
Loving favor rather than silver and gold.
(Proverbs 22:1)

PEOPLE WHO HAVE ACQUIRED WISDOM UNDERSTAND THAT IT’S IMPORTANT TO BUILD A GOOD NAME. If we could have riches or a good name, but not both, a good name would be the better choice.

At the very least, having a good name requires honesty, fairness, and complete integrity. And we aren’t talking about “image” here. A good name means having these qualities, not pretending to have them. As Edward R. Murrow, the great World War II broadcaster, said, “To be persuasive, we must be believable. To be believable, we must be credible. To be credible, we must be truthful.”

But having a good name also requires taking precautions against the appearance of wrongdoing. There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “Avoid suspicion. When you’re walking through your neighbor’s melon patch, don’t tie your shoe.” It takes not only a wise person to see the sense in that; it takes a person who cares more about his name than about his rights.

But speaking of rights, having a good name also means yielding our rights for the sake of things like love and mercy, and even courtesy and neighborliness. The person who insists on “doing his own thing,” regardless of how it impinges on others, is not going to have much credibility, even if he’s doing what is right from a technical standpoint. Paul wrote, “Do not let what is right for you become a matter of reproach” (Romans 14:16 TCNT).

But why does a good name matter so much? The answer is simple. If we are Christians, we bear the name of our Lord. In the eyes of the world, His reputation stands or falls with our own. To quote Paul once more, we are to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (Titus 2:10). So the issue here is evangelism, and the question is whether our reputation is helping or hurting the gospel. “What other people think of me is becoming less and less important; what they think of Jesus because of me is critical” (Cliff Richards). So Jesus Christ is why a good name matters so much.

That said, it’s also true that a reputation for integrity is a valuable thing for us to have personally. In fact, it’s worth a good deal more than the trinkets most people spend their time acquiring.

“A good name keeps its brightness even in dark days” (Latin Proverb).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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