The Value of a Good Name

Proverbs 22:1-16

A good name is a choice, not an automatic bequest. The result of things other than paternity. In Western culture, much different ideas about names and their usage than the ancient Middle East. Name recognition, aka “branding”, a big deal in business and political world. Name-dropping (the practice of casually mentioning important people in order to impress your listener, WordNet) also a favorite pastime, especially among those who strive to climb the social or economic ladder. But what underlying principles go with these practices? Popularity, market share, appearance, perceptions…

“…branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem. …Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot.”Laura Lake, Guide

Brands have become synonymous with product or service and replaced some names: Xerox (photocopy), Google (search), PhotoShop (modify an image), Polaroid (instant picture). But what about the connection between the name/brand and the actual thing to which it refers? Often it’s only a functional connection with little or no relationship to quality or performance or character actually inherent in the item.

A. What it is

English definition: “a language unit by which a person or thing is known”

Jewish usage:

significance as minimal as order of birth, hair color, number of siblings (e.g., twin); as great as the entire self-disclosure of God (Ex. 34:5-8) nearly equivalent to actual appearance/presence of individual

power/right to name indicated authority over what was being named: Adam and animals; God and numerous individuals – Abraham and Sarah, Jacob/Israel, Simon/Peter

usually indicative of character, either possessed by the individual or desired by the one naming; see Nabal, 1 Sam. 25:25

“My lord should not pay attention to this wicked man Nabal. He simply lives up to his name! His name means ‘fool,’ and he is indeed foolish.”NET

a good name more than a good label or “language unit”

…it is evidently a good reputation that is gained by uprightness and unselfishness—that loving esteem of others which is the fruit of being “concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.” (Phil. 2:4 NET)Harris

True value must be seen, however, not in what one has but in what he or she truly is.Constable

B. How to get it v.1-4

pick the right thing v.1a

careful, well thought-out choice; purposeful; perhaps with even ultimate or eternal significance

unlike Robert Frost’s: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by”, basing choice on the obvious

choice of wisdom considers the big picture, recognizes that the destination is as important as the route traveled

wisdom understands great wealth has value only as a means, not as an end; something Midas learned to his dismay when everything he touched turned to gold

in this case, silver and gold will not even serve as means to end of good name and loving favor

wisdom makes a considered purposeful choice in selecting good name as the end for which to strive

prioritize desires v.1b

desires are a function of nature; creatures desire the things they do because of what they are

seen in life of Nebuchadnezzar and time out to pasture: Dan. 4:34 his reason returned; Dan. 5:21 heart was made like that of a beast

limits to what we CAN desire and what we can NOT desire – determined by nature, regenerate or not, and ministry of Holy Spirit

within those limits we CAN modify desires

Phil. 1:23-24 Paul’s desire to depart and be with Christ, to continue teaching/encouraging them in their faith

1 Pet. 2:2 Peter instructed his readers to desire pure spiritual food

1 Cor. 10:6 Paul told his readers that we should not give in to evil desires

wisdom seeks to satisfy the desire that is most important from God’s view

pursue holy conduct and godliness v.4

2 Pet. 3:11 since this is where it’s all going, how should you conduct yourselves “in lives of holiness and godliness” while you are waiting

Solomon defines as: “humility and fear of the Lord”

Peter defines as:

2 Pet. 1:5-8 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,to knowledge self – control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

C. How to keep it v.5-16

live circumspectly v.5, 13

not taking unnecessary risks (verse 5) but not living paralyzed by fear (verse 13)

“So I saw in my dream, that he made haste, and went forward, that if possible he might get lodging there. Now, before he had gone far, he entered into a very narrow passage, which was about a furlong off of the Porter’s lodge ; and looking very narrowly before him as he went, he espied two lions in the way. Now, thought he, I see the dangers that Mistrust and Timorous were driven back by. (The lions were chained, but he saw not the chains.) Then he was afraid, and thought also himself to go back after them, for he thought nothing but death was before him. But the Porter at the lodge, whose name is Watchful, perceiving that Christian made a halt as if he would go back, cried unto him, saying, Is thy strength so small? Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith where it is, and for discovery of those that have none : keep in the midst of the path, and no hurt shall come unto thee.

Then I saw that he went on, trembling for fear of the lions ; but taking good heed to the directions of the Porter, he heard them roar, but they did him no harm.” Pilgrim’s Progress

pass it on v.6, 15

children will not automatically inherit good name if their character won’t bear it

molding character, not simply modifying behavior, results in lifelong habits

when it’s the traits of godly character being molded and instilled, then followed, a good name at least before men will result

must start at a young age – badly mannered children and foolish choices can ruin not only their own name but also that of their parents

manage resources v.7, 9, 16

avoid unnecessary debt, be relieved of debt as soon as possible

side benefit: freedom to contribute time and treasure to kingdom work

be generous but not wasteful with what is entrusted to you

good stewardship

have right attitude toward both rich and poor

see verse 2: God made both rich and poor, also made rich rich and poor poor

what we have, large or small, is because of God’s providential and benevolent care

pursue purity v.8, 11

consistently gracious speech is the outward evidence of an inwardly pure heart

Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

all men can and should pursue pure motives, the Christian should seek to achieve them across the board

a heart devoted to Christ and his service, desiring to see Christ magnified, doing all things for the glory of God

in other words, Living for Jesus


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