What's in a good name?
Your name represents you, your life, and who you are. It speaks of the work you do and how you do it. Your name embodies your reputation.
Having a good name requires honorable motives and priorities. It also involves living with a clear conscience by taking responsibility for your actions and making restitution when you have offended someone or done something wrong.
God warns that the secret motives of a man’s heart will ultimately determine the quality and durability of his name. “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10).
If your secret desires are motivated by greed, pride, or sensuality, your actions will be influenced by these motives, and you will forfeit a good name. If, however, your secret motives are to please the Lord and advance His kingdom, your name and reputation will be preserved even though you stumble along the way. “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief” (Proverbs 24:16).
A Clear Conscience
To have a clear conscience means taking responsibility for your actions and making things right when you have done wrong to others. The Apostle Peter challenges Christians to live “having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (I Peter 3:16).
A clear conscience gives inward motivation to maintain good works when your name is under attack. It is through the perseverance of good works that God is glorified and a good name is established. “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (I Peter 2:12).
Priorities reveal your values. They demonstrate what is most important to you: position, prestige, and possessions or your relationships with God, family, and others. Priorities are determined not only by how much time you spend on them, but by how difficult it would be to distract you from fulfilling them.
When a person’s priorities are out of order, he destroys the relationships that would have done the most to build and maintain a good name. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
Just as gold is tried by fire, so a good name will be tested by accusations and reactions. Names that pass these tests stand strong for generations to come. “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (I Corinthians 3:13–15).
This material was adapted from the Men’s Manual, Volume II, pages 186–187.