Power Points from Proverbs: Reputation
Power Points from Proverbs:
Imagine a certain world… A world in which the following might happen… There are 1,386,000,000 Chinese people in the world. One billion. Close to them are the people of India - 1,339,000,000 - one billion. If you could push a button and have $1 million dropped into your bank account, but one Chinese man would die or one Indian man would die, would you push the button?
What if you could push that button and no one would ever know you did? Would it change your mind if you knew people would know you are the one who pushed such a button?
Money allows us to buy our cars, to pay for our houses, to enjoy a meal at a restaurant, to send the girls to college. A good reputation, but no money, is a recipe for begging.
But Solomon said, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold” (Prov. 22:1). I’m going to come back to that verse in just a moment. How-ever, let’s look at some verses in Proverbs that talk about our name or our reputation.
Ted Williams, the player for the Boston Red Sox had a reputation for not being very nice. One night, he signed into a hotel under a pseudo-name, “G. C. Luther.” The clerk looked at his name, then at him, and asked if he was in fact Ted Williams. Williams denied it, and the two be-gan a conversation about fishing. Finally, the clerk said, “I thought you really were Ted. But I can see you’re not. You’ve got a much nicer disposition.”
“Favor” and “good repute” are ours, Solomon writes, if we live a life of kindness and truth. The word “repute” here is literally “understanding” - we will have “good understanding” before others, that is, a good reputation.
Solomon tells us in this text what to do about a good reputation. Keep God’s command-ments in our hearts. Write love for God and for our neighbor and faithfulness to His expectations on our hearts. If we do that, we will live good lives and that will result in good reputations. We also point out the emphasis here on the “heart,” the inside of man. Our behavior usually reflects what is in our hearts. So, we will have a good reputation among those around us if our behavior re-flects our hearts and our hearts reflect our love and respect for God and for His word.
Kenneth Galbraith was a Harvard economist, an author, and a TV personality who served in JFK’s administration. One day, the New York Times ran a profile on Galbraith and it appeared a morning he was having breakfast with the president. President Kennedy asked Galbraith what he thought of the article. Galbraith said it was all right but he couldn’t understand why they had to call him arrogant. President Kennedy replied, “I don’t see why not. Everybody else does.”
Reputation. Your name. “Self-image” is what you think of yourself. “Reputation” is what others think of you. “Character” is who you really are. If your character is what it ought to be, then your reputation is what it ought to be. Then, you will have a healthy self-image.
A good reputation will exist long after we are gone and it lives in the hearts of children and grand-children and others who have been influenced by our lives. When my dad died, he left each of his children a little bit of money, about enough to take a vacation. That money is gone; that was five years ago. Mom did not even leave any money; in fact, when she died, her estate was in debt. But the qualities of life that Mom and Dad taught the children have now reached the third generation and will likely impact a fourth generation.
Solomon also wrote in Ecclesiastes 7:1 that a good name is better than a good ointment. In this verse, “ointment” is a figure of speech symbolizing wealth or money.
The word “favor” is the same word we had back in 3:4. It can be translated “grace.” Here, it refers to a good name or a good reputation.
How is a good reputation better than a paycheck, great wealth (Baldwin, 164)?
1. A good reputation is the ticket for any paycheck, especially a better paycheck. If we live righteously, then our reputation is going to be one of honesty, integrity, and a high level of ethics. That is the kind of person an employer wants to hire.
2. A good reputation contributes to community, a sense of togetherness, while wealth does not necessarily. Think of your neighbors where you live. If you were to have a block party, who would you prefer to invite over? Someone who lives below the poverty line but is known for loving and serving the neighbors or the wealthiest person in town but who is known for being ar-rogant and selfish? When you are loved and appreciated for your kind behavior and gentle ser-vice, you earn a place in the lives of other people. Money does not buy a good reputation. Good-ness does.
If we live with a good reputation, we are promised to hear Jesus’ own lips say these words to us (Matt. 25:34).
You and I are tested on a regular basis with the choice to be honest or keep our integrity or to cut corners and deny our integrity for, usually, some selfish benefit. We can’t give in. We can’t do anything today that will compromise our reputation tomorrow.
This verse concludes the whole book of Proverbs but also the poem written in honor of the virtuous woman and it is talking about her reputation. Her works “praise her” in the gates; that is, a woman’s good works will fortify her reputation as a godly woman. As such, the poem and the verse are a fitting conclusion to the whole book of Proverbs as it illustrates that if we live our lives based on God’s wisdom rather than our own, then we will leave a lasting legacy with others - we’ll leave a good name.
How are we known?
1. We are known by what we want most.
2. What we think about most.
3. How we use our money.
4. What we do with our leisure time.
5. The company we enjoy.
6. Who and what we admire.
7. What we laugh at.
All of these go into forming our reputation, our name.
Proverbs is not the only source of teachings about having a good reputation. Let’s take a look at the young Jesus in Luke 2:52. The reference to “favor” might very well be intended to direct us back to the book of Proverbs. Why did Jesus grow in favor with God? Because He continually showed Himself obedient to Jehovah God. Why did Jesus grow in favor with man? Because He put the Father’s teachings first in His life, lived out that obedience, and it provided Jesus with a positive reputation. That’s why He had favor with the people.
Not only does our reputation affect our standing in people’s eyes right now, indeed our jobs or our business might stand or fall because of our reputation, but our reputation can hinder other people from going to heaven or assist other people in going to heaven. In Luke 17:1-2, Je-sus warned us about the impact our reputation can have on other people and how it might impact their salvation.
How people view us and how they draw conclusions based on the lives we live can im-pact where they spend eternity. That’s a very important reason for us to keep our reputations intact and spotless as we possibly can.
Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica and warned them to “stay away from every-thing that is evil” (1 Thess 5:22). Your translation might say “every appearance” of evil. The point is, stay away from anything that looks evil and if we do, we’ll protect our reputation from becom-ing bad.
Peter will write in 1 Peter 3 that if we have a good reputation, it will even make false ac-cusers ashamed. Listen to his words from 1 Peter 3:16. Why will people be put to shame if they falsely slander us? Because our reputation will shine positively with such a strong, powerful light for good that their false accusations will be seen for what they are, and they’ll be ashamed.
What this means is that when we sin, we are hurting our reputation. We will want to cor-rect that sin as quickly as possible. If more people know about the sin, the more people we will want to know about our repentance. That’s why “coming forward” at church is such a powerful act. It lets everyone know that we have sinned, that we know we have sinned, and we don’t want anyone to follow us in that sinful path.
Keeping a good reputation also means that if someone gets a false impression from something we have said or done or someone is spreading gossip about us that we know is not true, it could be to our advantage to meet the source of the gossip and explain things accurately so he or she will know the truth and, prayerfully, will stop spreading things that are not true. Why? Because a good reputation is better than wealth.
Most of us have heard of a Learjet. Learjets are named for Bill Lear, an inventor, aviator, and business man. Bill Lear holds more than 150 patents, including those for automatic pilots, car radio, and eight track tapes. Back in the 1950s, Bill Lear saw the market for small corporate jets. Eventually, in 1963, the first Learjet made its voyage. The next year, Bill Lear delivered his first jet to a client. His success was immediate and he started filling orders.
But, it was not long that Lear learned that two of his jets had crashed under mysterious circumstances. Bill Lear was devastated. At that point in time, 55 Learjets were privately owned, and Lear immediately sent word to all of the owners to ground their planes until he and his team could determine the cause. It was not just the fear of losing more human lives that motivated Lear but also his knowledge that his reputation was on the line if he wanted his business to be successful.
Lear and his engineers eventually pinpointed what they thought was the problem but in order to test their theory, it would take someone going up in one of his jets and trying it. The deci-sion was risky and dangerous but Lear made the decision. He nearly lost control of the jet but was able to recover and safely made it through the tests. The point was that he was able to veri-fy the defect in the design. His team developed a new part and he fitted all 55 jets, eliminating the danger.
Grounding all those planes cost Lear a lot of money. It also planted some seeds of doubt in the minds of potential customers. It took two years to rebuild his business. But, Lear says he never regretted making that decision and taking the risk. It takes character to build a solid, posi-tive reputation.
Reputation is more than just talk. It is putting your money where your mouth is. You can-not separate a person’s reputation from his or her actions.
It is our daily choices that create our character that influence our reputation. Every day that we live, we are either building or destroying our reputation.
Take home message: A good reputation is extremely important. Let us work hard at maintaining that good name.