A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.

Proverbs 22:1 

Better to Have a Good Name Than a Great Nest Egg

| Aug 13, 2013

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A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.—Proverbs 22:1

I used to think that this “name” King Solomon commends is the one given to us by our parents (or our “Christian names”). Now I believe he is talking about our reputations or our character.

First, this name is something that can “be chosen.” I did not choose my own name. Kline and Mary DeWire did. It was given to me. We name our children certain names with the hope that they become certain people.

For example, Sarah and I named our daughter “Joy” for numerous reasons. Fullness of joy is found only in God’s presence (Psalm 16:11), so we long for our Joy to know this joy (or this God). Likewise, if God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him, then we want our Joy to have such deep joy and satisfaction in God that, when others see her life, they glorify her Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

“Yes,” you might say, “but people have the ability to change their names. So we can choose a new first name if we want.” That is true. But the second clue in the text that Solomon is writing about our character is the parallel to “name,” which is “favor.”

The interesting thing about favor is that God gives favor as He sees fit and we grow in favor with God and with others by the way we live our lives. So, it’s a gift that we strive after.

For instance, as Joseph remained faithful to God through the hardships of being sold by his brothers to slavery and being lied about and maligned, the Bible says,

“The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had.” (Genesis 39:2–4)

And again, it says, “The LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” (Genesis 39:21)

Again, men looked upon Joseph with favor both because of the good he had done (“the LORD caused all that he did to succeed”) and because the LORD gave him the favor.

This reality was also true of Jesus Himself. Luke writes, “the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). And again, he says, “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). And Solomon tells us that such a name—such a reputation or such favor—is better than great wealth.

Finally, notice the comparison between a good name and great riches. The favor is so much more desirable than the finances that the lesser adjective good is better than the greater adjective great. And of course, to have a great name is best of all.

So, orient your life around the greater value. Make it your life’s aim to please God with your reputation (2 Corinthians 5:9). You cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24). You must choose. I join Solomon in pleading with you to choose wisely.

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