How can I maintain a good name?
A good name is more valuable than riches, because it can’t be bought with money. It has to be earned moment by moment, day by day, decision by decision. Having a good name means living in a way that earns the trust of others. It means demonstrating integrity that people can depend on. Maintaining a good name doesn’t mean that you are perfect, but when you make mistakes, you learn from them and do what you can to make things right.
“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1). Consistency in the following areas will help you maintain a good name.
Be True to Your Word
Do all you can to fulfill your promises and carry out your commitments, whatever the cost. After all, a person’s name is as good as his word.
God warns us to choose our words carefully so that we can keep the promises we make. We are to be swift to hear but slow to speak. (See James 1:19.) “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2).
Consider the promises you have made to God, your family, friends, and others. Have you kept your word? Ask a trusted friend to hold you accountable to fulfill your promises.
Return Borrowed Items
Lending among friends is usually done without keeping careful records of the loan. Borrowing is often prompted by the urgency or need of the moment, with full intention to repay. When the pressure eases, however, loans are often forgotten by the borrower—but not by the lender. As time passes, the risk of damage, both to the borrowed items and to the friendship, continues to increase.
Scripture reveals the bad name you earn when you fail to return what was borrowed to you: “The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again . . .” (Psalm 37:21). Have you borrowed items that have not been returned? Do you need to reimburse anyone for items they have given you?
Maintain Just Business Practices
God sees every business transaction we make, and throughout Scripture He calls us to be honest and just. “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God . . .” (Leviticus 19:35–36).
In Bible times, merchants made dishonest profits by using two sets of weights—one set for buying and another for selling. The weights for buying were heavier than the weights for selling, so the merchant got more than he paid for and delivered less than his customers purchased. In the Bible, God repeatedly rebukes this practice. “A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight” (Proverbs 11:1). (See also Proverbs 16:11, 20:10, and 20:23.)
Using a false weight or measure does not constitute a large theft. It is a small theft repeated many times. Yet God condemns and punishes corruption in the marketplace, even for a small dishonest gain. “Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights? For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins. Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied . . . . Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap: thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil . . .” (Micah 6:11–15).
If you have cheated anyone, restore what you dishonestly gained.
Reject Gain That Comes From Another’s Loss
There is severe and lasting damage to the name of any person who profits by another’s loss. God criticizes unjust gain and warns that those who receive it are, in fact, investing in their own destruction. “And they lay wait for their own blood: they lurk privily for their own lives. So are the ways of everyone that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof” (Proverbs 1:18–19).
Even if a method of earning money is legal, if it takes advantage of the poor, it violates God’s Word. “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies” (Psalm 41:1–2).
Be Punctual in Paying Bills
Businesspeople often face difficult financial circumstances. They depend on the receipts that are owed to them so that they in turn can discharge their financial responsibilities. When payment is late, the confidence and respect toward the one owing the money is damaged.
To honor those on whose businesses you depend, establish the practice of delivering full payment for services. Consider keeping a special account to hold funds in trust so that the money will not be spent on other items. “Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee” (Proverbs 3:28).
Associate With Wise and Godly People
Companionship is an important part of life, and your associates influence your judgment on many issues. Scripture instructs us: “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20). “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (I Corinthians 15:33).
A good name can be damaged by friendships, through either influence or association. Others may esteem or fail to esteem your name on the basis of the company you keep. Although we should not altogether withdraw from interacting with people whose behavior and values differ from our own, we should seek to choose wise companions to be our closest friends. Are your close friends known as wise and Godly people?
Represent Jesus Christ With Honor
Honest living is especially important for a Christian, because he represents Jesus Christ to those around him, and he can rely on God’s grace to enable him to live righteously. (See II Peter 1:2–5.) Therefore, he should be more concerned about upholding God’s good name than he is about upholding his own reputation.
By fearing God instead of man, a Christian will gain the confidence to stand for what is true, even if it is not popular. As he centers his life on God’s Word, he will not be swayed by the opinions and decision of others, but rather he will hold fast to the truth. “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25.)
“Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee” (Psalm 128:1).
This material was adapted from the Men’s Manual, Volume II, pages 183–185.