A Good Name
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches,
and loving favour rather than silver and gold.
1. This proverb falls into the category of a synthetic parallelism.
2. The author makes a point, and then repeats virtually the same concept using different terms.
3. It is a good teaching method. If the first expression of the concept didn’t make it clear to the reader, the second one will help drive the truth home.
A Good Name is Better than Great Riches
a. Strong’s: Name; reputation; fame; glory; memorial.
b. Zodhiates: It is what specifically identifies a person or anything: God’s name, “I am who I am.” (Ex. 3:15)
c. To make a name for oneself means to attain a renowned reputation
• Gen. 11:4 – The builders of the tower of Babel said, “let us make us a name…”
• II Sam. 8:13 – “And David gat him a name when he returned from smiting the Syrians.”
• Often the term “name” in the Bible speaks of one’s reputation… Either good or bad.
d. The word “good” in Prov. 22:1 is italicized. It does not appear in the original.
• However, Solomon is obviously speaking of a good reputation, not a bad one.
• The point of the proverb is the VALUE of a good reputation, or a good name.
e. Solomon is speaking here of one’s reputation BEFORE MEN.
• In other words, he speaks of the importance of what men think about you.
• A reputation is EARNED by our words and deeds.
• A man who lies earns the reputation of being a liar.
• A man who steals earns the reputation of being a thief.
» On the Boston news today they noted that the third speaker of the house in a row was indicted for criminal activity.
• A man who cheats on his wife earns the reputation of a philanderer.
• The man who keeps on quitting his jobs earns the reputation of being unstable or lazy.
• But one can also earn a GOOD name.
• A man who helps his neighbor will earn the reputation of being kind.
• The man who is squeaky clean with his finances earns the reputation of being honest.
• The man who is a hard worker earns the reputation of being diligent.
2. It takes a long time to BUILD UP a good reputation. But it takes no time at all to destroy it.
a. Ecc. 10:1 – Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.
b. A little folly can cause our testimony to STINK—just as a small dead fly can cause a sweet perfume to stink.
c. Be CAREFUL about your testimony!
3. The VALUE of a good testimony: It is better than great riches.
a. There is not as much importance given to a good name (on a personal level) in our culture today as there used to be… and as there still is in other cultures.
• There is no stigma to having a baby out of wedlock any more.
• There is not much shame in being convicted for crimes. Sometimes criminals go on to have their own TV shows, or a talk radio show.
• There was a time when your name was disgraced, that a family might have to move across the country to start over… but that doesn’t happen anymore.
• Parents used to be concerned about their child’s behavior because bad behavior was a disgrace to the family name.
• That sense of the value of one’s “name” has been greatly diminished in our generation.
• But regardless of what our present culture says, God’s Word says that a good name is EXTREMELY valuable!
b. Ecc. 7:1 – better than sweet ointment.
• Ointment (perfume; cologne) is good.
• It has a pleasant aroma.
• The one wearing it emits a pleasant odor wherever he or she goes. (Just like one’s reputation that follows him wherever he goes.)
• One’s reputation or good name is like an odor.
• A good reputation emits a fragrant odor. A bad reputation is like a horrible odor.
• In other words, a good name is attractive and pleasant. It causes people to be favorably inclined towards.
• But a bad reputation is unattractive and unpleasant. Like a terrible body odor, it is repulsive and turns people away.
c. In our proverb, Solomon states that a good name is better than riches.
• It is good to have riches, but it is BETTER to have a good name.
• Some wealthy people have earned horrible reputations. Nobody likes them.
• They have earned a reputation for being mean, cruel, inconsiderate, selfish, hard hearted, etc.
• Such a person would be better off in many ways if he was poor and had a GOOD reputation.
• The poor man with a good reputation has friends. He can sleep at night because he was kind to people throughout the day.
d. A man’s reputation is more valuable than material things.
• In the business world, name and reputation are priceless.
• Companies spend millions of dollars to “buy” a good name… or if their name is tarnished to “restore” a good name. (Tylenol after the Tylenol scare in the 1990s.)
• Franchise owners spend millions of dollars just for the privilege of using a well known product name… like McDonalds or Ben & Jerry’s.
• The business world knows the value of a good name. Would to God that we as believers would realize that too!
4. We might think of this term “good name” in the sense of a “good testimony” as a believer.
a. This is an exceedingly important concept in the Bible to which I wish more of God’s people would be sensitive.
b. This also is earned.
c. In this sense, our testimony is even MORE valuable than earthly riches.
d. A good reputation among men is important because our “name” is connected with God’s “name” and reputation.
e. We represent the Lord among men.
f. We are living epistles, known and read of all men.
g. We are ambassadors for Christ, representing our “heavenly country” on earth.
h. Sometimes men will attempt to damage our testimony and speak evil of us. That is NOT earned.
i. Knowing this, it is our responsibility to be especially careful NOT to give them any fodder for their arguments.
j. Knowing that unsaved men are just looking for opportunities to impugn us and our testimony, we need to be the most careful people on earth to avoid giving them that opportunity.
k. I Pet. 4:14-15 – The world will speak evil of us for the NAME of Christ. We should rejoice in that. But don’t ever let them speak evil of us as an evildoer!
l. I Pet. 3:16-17 – Maintain a good conscience by living a godly life. If men speak evil of us for that, they may end up being ashamed for wrongly accusing us. There is even a good name or a good testimony to be earned in being willing to suffer for righteousness’ sake. That is far better than suffering for doing evil.
m. Psalm 106:8 – God saves for His name’s sake, that His power might be known.
n. I John 2:12 – He forgives our sins for His name’s sake.
o. Rev. 2:3 – Whatever WE do as believers is to be done for the Lord’s NAME’s sake. Our service is for His name’s sake (for His reputation).
p. Acts 9:16 – If we are called to suffer, it is for His name’s sake.
q. Luke 21:17 – Believers are often hated for His name’s sake.
r. Matt. 19:29 –We are called to sacrifice for His name’s sake.
s. Psalm 23:3 – Good Shepherd leads His flock for His name’s sake.
t. God is far more concerned about His reputation and His testimony than we might think.
u. And since HIS name and reputation are connected to our name and reputation, that makes our personal testimony on earth important.
v. That’s why we should exert great CARE about our behavior, our deportment, our attitude, our speech, our deeds, even our appearance before men.
w. Even picky little things that may not be big issues themselves, will be noticed by the unsaved who SEEK to find fault with us… to damage our good name.
x. A good name… a good testimony is not only valuable in an earthly sense (than great riches), it has ETERNAL value to it also.
y. Acts 9:15 – “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” In a sense, we ALL bear God’s name before the world. We are “Christ-ones.”
z. Heb. 11:39 – “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith.”
1. Loving favor defined:
• This term has a wide range of meaning. It is similar to the English word “good.”
• The shades of meaning include: Pleasant; agreeable; good; excellent; valuable; bounteous; fruitful; correct; proper.
• Favour; grace; charm; acceptance.
• It speaks of being found in someone’s favor… being kindly disposed towards a person or thing…
• Joseph found favor in the eyes of Potiphar and was made the chief steward.
2. Luke 2:52 – “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man.”
a. Acts 2:47 – The early church found favor with all the people.
b. That is the normal reaction to a truly godly life.
c. II Cor. 8:21 – “Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.”
3. Prov. 3:4 – “So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.”
a. This favor is the result of employing godly wisdom in one’s life.
b. A life characterized by wisdom will bring a person into favor with others… with God and man.
c. This is more valuable than silver and gold… just like wisdom is more valuable than silver and gold.
4. A good name and favor is not something after which that we should CONSCIOUSLY seek.
a. We shouldn’t seek a good reputation in order to exalt self.
b. Rather, it should be a consequence of a godly life.
c. And if we DO earn a good reputation, the godly man will be humbled by it, and will acknowledge before the Lord that it was not truly deserved.
d. We should not seek the praise of men… or to become a celebrity.
e. The godly men and women in the Hebrews 11 hall of fame did not consciously SEEK to become a famous, world, renowned hero. They sought rather to honor God in their lives.
f. We should NOT seek the praise of men, but should seek the praise of God at the Bema Seat.
g. But a life dedicated to pleasing God will usually earn the respect and favor of men too.