Where Does a Good Name Come From? (Proverbs 22:1)
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. —Proverbs 22:1
Your name is your brand. That’s the sentiment of social media gurus. And brands can be worth money—a lot of money. Apple, the most valuable brand according to Harvard Business School Online, has a name worth as much as $145.3 billion. A distant second is Microsoft ($69.3 billion), followed by Google at $65.6 billion.
Names can be worth a fortune, but does that make them good? Not according to Solomon. Our verse presents a choice: either a good name or great riches. You can’t prioritize both. Some men with virtuous character do get riches in this life. But men who make riches their aim will be tempted to compromise their character to gain wealth. If you obey God and trust Him to provide, your name will be valuable; it will be a worthy name—a name that is worth something.
When life presents a choice—conduct your affairs with integrity or compromise to make more money—God says choose integrity. Obey Him. You may find that your honesty is rewarded in this life. But even if no one notices and your salary remains small, God sees, and your obedience is pleasing to him (Romans 12:1).
If your goal is money, you will be easily tempted to compromise when it’s a faster path to getting more. Early in his reign, Solomon had a good reputation (see 1 Kings 10). He also had riches from God, and he knew from personal experience that “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 5:10). His wisdom reminds me of Paul’s words to Timothy, “but godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6).
We should toil in gratitude to God who gives us work to do, working heartily as unto Him (Colossians 3:23). Enjoy your toil, says Solomon, and be content with what God provides, whether a lot or a little:
Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil–this is the gift of God (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20).
As with every good gift, a good name is from God (James 1:17). To have a good name is to reflect the heavenly Father—to bear His likeness. That’s only possible for those who are adopted as His sons and daughters. A good name is the mark of a Christian.
A good name is also the fruit of pursuing godliness. Paul says Christians are to conduct themselves “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27). Such conduct is what leads to a good name—an honorable reputation. Peter urged the elect exiles in his day to “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).
Where does a good reputation come from and how do you choose it? By being a man or woman of high character, by being virtuous; by conducting your affairs with integrity, being honest—even to your own hurt (Psalm 15:4). These are the traits that make you trustworthy.
Daily choices add up, forming a person’s character. I’m so thankful for the conviction of the Holy Spirit. He is the One who makes it possible to choose a good name. In our flesh, we are tempted by the glitter of gold and the ease of wealth. This verse is a weapon in the fight for integrity. A good name is better than great riches.
What tempts you to pursue riches?
When fear about finances rises up, ask God to strengthen your faith in Him as provider.
As you memorize this verse, meditate on the benefits of having a biblically-defined good name.
Candice Watters is the Fighter Verses editor. She is married to Steve Watters, Truth78's director of marketing and resource development. Together they wrote Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies. The Watterses are members, with their four children, of Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, KY.