The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
client login


      Expressing her love for Romeo rather than for his Montague name or the family bearing this name, Juliet raised the question “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose…by any other name would still smell as sweet.” Through use of metaphor, Juliet opined that names carry no substance or significance serving only as a simple appellation. And, while Shakespeare’s emphasis on individual worth presented through Juliet’s well-known quote is noble, the suggestion that names carry no meaning and are important only as markers to distinguish between people is somewhat foreign to a biblical perspective on names.     
      Names are important. In contrast to Shakespeare’s view, names in Hebrew thought represented the entirety or essence of the person being referenced. In other words, a name expressed the totality of a person inclusive of their character and nature…what they stood for. The importance of names is underscored by the assertion presented by the sage in Proverbs 22:1 namely, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches; esteem/loving favor is better than silver and gold.” Thus, when juxtaposed against the value of a name and the esteem derived from a good name, great riches and precious metals pale in comparison.
      Names are important and the entirety of the person represented by a name also is important. Against the backdrop of Proverbs 22:1, this edition of “From Daniel’s Den” seeks to address the question posed in Juliet’s soliloquy, “What’s in a name?” Choosing to have a good name…

Promotes Stability

      A good name begins with a stable foundation. Perhaps you have heard someone referred to as “solid.” A stable foundation undergirds a solid person. Referring to someone who is solid, my dear friend Sollie Smith would say “They have a bottom in their bucket.” Solid folks do not waver in their convictions. Solid folks are not wishy-washy or on-again/off-again in their decision-making or actions. Solid folks do not straddle the fence or apply situation ethics in response to a particular challenge. Rather, solid folks…those with a stable foundation…not only are strong in the Lord and in his power, but solid folks can also stand firm against the wiles of the devil  because they are clad daily with the full armor of the Lord (Ephesians 6). The stability promoted through a good name means that solid folks are not “…tossed to-and-fro by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14).

Projects Integrity

      A good name speaks to one’s integrity and integrity is paramount for a sound reputation. Whether defined formally (“The characteristic or quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles.”) or informally (“Who you are when no one is watching” … “what you do when no one will find out or ever know.”), integrity identifies a person both morally and ethically. Not only is being consistent in action, attitude, thought, word, and deed (Philippians 4:8-9a) and being “content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11) hallmarks of integrity, but a person of integrity is also cut from a different bolt of cloth from that of the world being confident in the strength derived from Jesus and imparted through a relationship with him (Philippians 4:13).      
      Warren Wiersbe explains that “A person of integrity is not divided or merely pretending in life. He or she is whole; life is put together and things are working together harmoniously. People with integrity have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. Their lives are an open book.” Even as an integer in mathematics is a whole number, integrity points to wholeness or completeness. Thus, according to Proverbs 22:1, all of the allurements of our culture…whether fame, fortune, power, possessions, prestige, or position…cannot compete with the value of a good name inasmuch as the trappings of this world cannot complete a person or make them whole.
      Of interest is the fact that several versions of the Bible employ the word “reputation” rather than “name” when translating Proverbs 22:1 (ISV, NLT, CEV, GNT). Concerning the importance of one’s reputation, the Good News Translation is emphatic “If you have to choose between a good reputation and great wealth…choose a good reputation!” With a good name that projects integrity, a person of sound reputation fixes their eyes upon Jesus in faith recognizing that “looking full into his wonderful face” causes “the things of this world to grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

Provides Opportunity

      Many people have achieved “name recognition” and the material riches that often follow celebrity status. Possessing a name that is well-known, however, is not the same as possessing a “good name.” A person with a good name…or good reputation…is trusted. One having a good name is respected and regarded as trustworthy. A good name instills confidence because others know that decisions are made and actions are taken from pure motives and with integrity.     
      As variously translated, receiving “respect,” “loving favor,” “esteem,” or “favorable acceptance” from others accompanies the person bearing a good name and far exceeds the value of silver and gold. A good name, therefore, provides the unique and valuable opportunity to influence people and to instruct them both verbally and visibly. Perhaps no greater riches can be realized than the privilege of influencing and instructing others…perhaps especially the opportunity to leave a legacy of influence for younger generations. Acknowledging the privilege and opportunity for one generation to commend God’s works to the next generation (Psalm 145:4), the psalmist prayed “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come” (71:18).
      A fellow Dixie Youth baseball coach and friend of mine often declared, “You are to make a difference in your little corner of the world.” Whether making a difference in your corner of the world or beyond, possessing a good name provides you the opportunity to have a positive and Christ-centered legacy of influence and instruction on others that reaches into eternity.     
      Not too long before my father died, he presented my older brother with a summary of the inheritance that the Hall children could anticipate receiving upon his death. Dad summarized his legacy as, “I am not able to leave you any money or material possessions. All I have to leave is my reputation and good name which I have spent a lifetime building.”     
      Names are important. Your name is important. The favorable status and high quality of your name is more desirable, valuable, and enduring than material gain. A good name promotes stability, projects integrity, provides opportunity and is “rather to be chosen than great riches; esteem/loving favor is more desirable than silver or gold.”


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your son Jesus whose name is above every name. Thank you for loving me and blessing me immeasurably despite my many faults, failures, and flaws. Thank you for those with a good name who have influenced my life. May I continue to cultivate and maintain a good name that provides me the opportunity to influence and instruct others as I lead them to you. Amen.