In Prov 22:1, Solomon said, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.” He’s saying that sometimes you have to choose between a good name and a great fortune.
For example, Judas Iscariot chose to have great riches, silver and gold, rather than a good name, and he succeeded. Satan chose to have great riches rather than a good name and he also succeeded. Judas Iscariot and Satan are two of the worst names recorded in the Bible.
Jesus Christ, on the other hand, didn’t choose great riches, silver and gold. According to 2 Cor 8:9, “he became poor, that (we) through his poverty might be rich.” And he has the best name ever known to man. Paul, the apostle, also refused to be allured by the prospect of gaining great wealth. And he also has a great name among Christians.
The world will try to convince you that your success is measured by the size of your net worth. Solomon was wealthier than any other king in his day. Yet, after obtaining all that great wealth, he concluded that a good name and loving favor were better than great riches, silver and gold.
You might ask how to have a good name. You can find many, many books on how to get rich; but you don’t find so many on how to have a good name. Interestingly, in Prov 22, we can find four passages that give us some instruction on how to have a good name. Solomon gives you some things you can do to have a good name. To have a good name:
Be humble and God-fearing in your life – Prov 22:4 – Joseph of Arimathaea is a man who has a good name, Lk 23:50-53. He was an honorable counsellor, Mk 15:43. Even though he was a rich man, he was one of Jesus’ disciples, Matt 27:57. He followed the Lord, and in burying Jesus, he fulfilled a prophecy in Isaiah, Is 53:9. Ps 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.”
Be pure in your heart – Prov 22:11 – a good heart is what makes a good man. Lk 6:45 says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good.” Barnabas is a man who has a good name, Acts 11:22-24. He was full of the Holy Ghost and faith.
We are particularly blessed as God’s new creatures to have the Holy Ghost in us. He bears fruit in us that works from the inside out. Phil 2:13 says, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Jesus told the Pharisees to “cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also,” Matt 23:26. With a clean heart, you’ll have a good name.
Be truthful in your answers – Prov 22:21 – God has written to us “excellent things in counsels and knowledge,” Prov 22:20. With these things, we can “answer the words of truth” to them that send unto us.
Ahimaaz the son of Zadok is a man with a good name. In 2 Sam 18:27, when he was running to bring King David tidings, David said, “He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings.” When you are known to others as a man who always speaks the truth, you’re going to have a good name. Interestingly, it is the the sons of Zadok who will serve the Lord in the millennial temple because they went not astray, Ezek 44:15, 48:11.
Be diligent in your business – Prov 22:29 – David is a man with a good name in the Bible. David was a man after God’s own heart, Acts 13:22, and he was also diligent in his business. Prov 12:2 says, “A good man obtaineth favor of the Lord.” He certainly obtained favor of the Lord. In 2 Sam 7:12-17, God revealed to David that he would set up his kingdom forever. David’s throne and kingdom were given to Jesus, Lk 1:30-33. As Prov 13:22 says, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children.”
Conclusion: if you would rather have a good name than a great deal of wealth, follow these four simple principles that Solomon wrote in Prov 22. Joseph, Barnabas, Ahimaaz, and David did and they were all good men.