60 Seconds - A Good Name

The Talmud ("The Sayings of the Fathers," IV:17) reports: "Rabbi Simeon said, 'There are three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of kingship, but the crown of a good name excels them all'."

In Ecclesiastes 7:1, we read, "A good name is better than precious ointment," meaning that a good name is worth more than wealth, honors, and titles of men.

Robert E. Lee, following the Civil War, was approached by the managers of the Louisiana Lottery. He sat in his old rocking-chair, crutches at his side, and listened to their proposition. He could not believe what he was hearing, and asked them to repeat it, thinking, surely, he had heard wrong. They said they did not want money from him. All they wanted was the use of his name, which would eventually make him rich. Lee straightened up in his chair, buttoned his old gray tunic, and thundered, "Gentlemen, I lost my home in the war. I lost my fortune in the war. I lost everything in the war except my name. My name is not for sale, and if you fellows don't get out of here, I'll break this crutch over your heads!"

Proverbs 22:1 says, "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold." The word "good" in the Authorized Version is in italics, showing that the epithet is not expressed in the Hebrew, which is simply "name," but this word carries with it the notion of honor, reputation, and character.

Someone stated, "Have regard to your name, for that will continue with you above a thousand great treasures of gold."

Another declared, "A good life has but a few days, but a good name endures for ever."

Then, Sirach warns, "An evil name will inherit disgrace and reproach."

It is said of the great explorer and philanthropist, David Livingstone, that he used to live in a village in Africa until his "good name" for benevolence had been established and had gone on before him. Following his reputation, he was perfectly safe.

William Barclay tells about a man who chose to buy a house without even looking at it, because he knew the man who had built the house.

Socrates stated, "The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear."

According to Acts 6:3, one of the qualifications of the seven who were chosen by the early church as the first deacons was that they be men "of good reputation."

When Paul wrote Timothy, and cited the qualifications of a bishop (overseer, pastor), one was that "he must have a good testimony," 1 Timothy 3:7.

Furthermore, as Christians, we must think of the effect a good or evil name has on society, because, as an "epistle of Christ," we are "known and read by all men," 2 Corinthians 3:2 and 3.

Remember, "a good name" and "loving favor" are priceless possessions that should never be bartered, but be jealously guarded.

Dave Arnold, Pastor
Gulf Coast Worship Center
New Port Richey, Florida, 34654