A good name is to be chosen... - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Biblical Wisdom
July 5, 2017

A good name is to be chosen...

Proverbs 22:1 – “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.”

Both riches (silver and gold) and an honorable reputation (loving favor, i.e., respect) are good. But if one has to choose between them, Solomon says, “Choose a good name.” Solomon’s son Rehoboam chose wealth (i.e. higher taxes) rather than the love and respect of his people. Choosing poorly, he lost most of his kingdom.

With whom does one want a good reputation? Other people, certainly! Elders need a good reputation towards outsiders (I Timothy 3:7), as well as those inside the church. A remarkable thing said of young King David was that, “And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them, as everything that the king did pleased all the people (II Samuel 3:36).” Paul always tried to have a good conscience both toward God and his fellow men (Acts 24:16).

The reason a good name is better than riches? In the end we have to deal with God, and riches do not impress Him. He loves the upright man who fears Him and who walks before His face. Our fate, in this life and the next, rests in His hands. Therefore, if you have to choose between a good reputation and wealth, choose a good reputation, a good proxy for keeping God’s Law.

What kills a good reputation? Slander does, sometimes for a lifetime and beyond. Against that sort of murderous attack, we have little power. But one’s own sin that becomes known also destroys a reputation. Cheating, lying, stealing, breaking one’s word, adultery, murder, and witchcraft are all shortcuts to success. All sin is a short cut, a way to get what one wants without following God’s law.

I had a student once who had destroyed his reputation with both me and his parents, by lying constantly. In a meeting with his school guidance counselor and his teachers about his poor performance, when it was my turn to speak, I said, “Failing Algebra is Harry’s small problem. Lying is his big one.” The guidance counselor was not pleased, but the parents knew their son and instantly nodded their heads in hearty agreement. Next day, Harry complained to me about what I had said, explaining, “But Mr. Edgar, you don’t understand. Lying is how I get what I want.” Reputation confirmed!

Solomon combines the matter of a good name and riches because a common place where people cut corners is with money. They rob their employers, stab fellow workers in the back for promotions, skirt the law to improve profits, cheat on their taxes, pay workers badly, and sell shoddy goods – all shortcuts to make more money. But the price is a bad name, a bad choice because “A good name is more desirable than great wealth, the respect of others is better than silver or gold (Jerusalem Bible).”

- Dr. Bill Edgar, Geneva College Board of Trustees Member and Former President