Your name represents you. When your name is mentioned, people immediately think of who you are and what they know about you. A lot sooner than we think, our life will be summarized on a head stone in a cemetery. Your first, middle and last name will be there. Your date of birth and date of death will be inscribed. Perhaps a meaningful phrase or short sentence will be displayed at the bottom. But the critical part of that headstone inscription is YOUR name. I hear people warn others: “Be careful. You don’t want to get a bad name for yourself.” Do they mean a name change on your birth certificate or do they have something else in mind? Something else!!
Here’s what the Bible says:
Your name today represents the choices you have made up until now. If you are very young, your name will be associated primarily with your parents. But as you start to make your own decisions, those choices will define who you are and what people think of you. As soon as your name is mentioned, those things will flash into the hearer’s mind. Your reputation is linked inseparably with your name. If some fast-food junkie complains to the media about finding a decayed human tooth in their burger, the franchise’s stock will take a bad beating on the markets. A million good burgers maybe – but one bad burger can put a company out of business.
My name is just that vulnerable. One ill-advised choice. One bad decision. One secret sin exposed. One failure to do the proper thing. It takes time to build a good name – but no time to lose it.
Reputation represents what people ‘think’ of you in this life. Character is who you are and what you take into eternity with you. Reputation is what people know about you. Character is what God knows about you. The greatest pursuit I could have in life is to leave behind me a ‘good name’. A lot of effort goes into earning an education, and getting and keeping a job. But earning and keeping a good name is a far nobler pursuit in life — a good name that is honoring to Christ. The greatest respect that could ever be paid to a Christian is for friends and neighbors to say at the funeral: “She loved her Lord, lived for her Lord, was like her Lord and now she’s with her Lord.” That’s a good name!
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