Proverbs 22 – A Good Name
Proverbs 22:1 states that a good name is more desirable than great riches and esteem is better than silver or gold. This proverb is not about image management or maintaining a façade. The idea here is that you will be known for who you are and that who you are is known by what you do. When someone says your name what do they think of? Does your reputation reflect the character of Christ and open doors for the Gospel? Or does it smack of hypocrisy and self-serving moral ambiguity? There are some people in my life that I will seek advice from because wisdom is evident in their actions. At the same time, there are some people that I am very reluctant to take advice from, because their lives don’t show the evidence of wisdom.
Benjamin Franklin said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and only one to lose it.” A reputation is a fragile thing because it is built on trust. I’ve ministered to couples in crisis often to find that one spouse has built a pattern of breaching trust and then, when the relationship is on the rocks, they are incredulous that the moment they begin doing the right thing trust isn’t restored. Trust is built, or rebuilt, over time. What kind of name are you building?
Ask a trusted friend or spouse to help you discover the state of your reputation. Prepare yourself to hear the hard truth and respond with grace. You cannot change what you’ve built so far but with the help of the Holy Spirit and some good friends you can begin to build something new. Proverbs 22 talks of the doors opened by reputations characterized by honesty (v11), generosity (v9), humility (v4), excellence (v29).
In Shakespeare’s famous monologue, from the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet, Romeo asks, “What is in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” When English speakers hear the word “rose” we think of the sweet- smelling flower. Mandarin speakers hear “méi gui” they think of the same thing. When people hear your name what do they think of? Is it a reflection of Christlike character or something else?