A Good Name

It’s late August here in Atlanta, and though the summer heat will probably linger for a while yet, September with its cooler evenings isn’t far away. And for a sports fan like me, that can only mean one thing…

Football!

Jerome Bettis  (photo by: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Jerome Bettis
(photo by: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

I really started to get excited about the upcoming season when I was listening to some of the interviews with the new inductees into the NFL Hall of Fame. I wasn’t even thinking about anything of a spiritual nature until I heard comments from former Pittsburgh Steelers player, Jerome Bettis. Standing at the podium to accept his honor, he reflected on something his father told him many years ago.

“Son, I’m sending you off to school. I don’t have much to give you, but I have a good name. Don’t mess it up.”

Any parent understands what this wise father was telling his son… that one foolish decision has the destructive power to ruin a good reputation that took a lifetime to establish.

While I can’t know if the elder Bettis reads scripture or not, his words do echo the advice that Solomon gives to us in the book of Proverbs. Chapter 22 opens by saying:

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Today you’ll often hear people say, “I don’t care what people think about me.” Of course it’s true that our actions shouldn’t always be directed by seeking the approval of others, because the shifting nature of popular opinion these days can all to quickly lead even the most committed of us away from truth. So to guard against being drawn away, we must be rooted in the solid, unchanging and trustworthy truths of the Word of God regardless of the opinions of those around us who would disagree. But, at the same time, we should be mindful of what our behavior and speech says about our beliefs. That way, even when people differ with us, they should always leave convinced that we are who we say we are.  That is, our outward behavior should be consistent with our inward beliefs.

A few chapters earlier in Proverbs 3, Solomon delivers some additional guidance for developing and maintaining a “good name” that will bring honor to our Heavenly Father. Consider his simple outline:

 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. ~ Proverbs 3:3-4

Most people have met Christians who are fantastic students of the scripture who can easily best just about anyone with their ability to expound the truth. But how many of them do so without compassion, kindness and sensitivity. On the other hand, far too many churches are filled with believers who are warm and considerate toward others, but lack the scriptural insight that’s the bedrock foundation of Biblical discernment. And as a result, in their desire to express love, they all too often unwittingly open the door to almost any aberrant philosophy as well.

Having all seen too many examples of both of these extremes, we know from experience that neither truth without mercy nor mercy without truth will lead to a positive impression left on others that declares us as faithful followers of Christ. It’s only when mercy and truth are intertwined and become evident in your actions (worn “around the neck” –vs 3) and integrated into the core of your being (written on the “tablet of the heart”- vs 3) that you will establish a strong reputation that earns the respect of others… and brings honor to the good Name of our Heavenly Father.

36 thoughts on “A Good Name

  1. Ah, being consistent in everything we do. That can be a two-edged sword at times. Love Proverbs and Solomon’s consistency, until…he thought God’s advice was not needed as it was in the beginning. He forgot God’s consistency. “So shall you find favor, good understanding, and high esteem in the sight of God and man” ~ Prov. 3:4. So be CONSISTENT–“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding” ~ Prov. 3:5.

  2. Great analogy from the words of a human father to the words or our Heavenly Father. Funny that I also wrote about football. Has to be the time of year. Thanks for writing this. It is full of wisdom and truth. We all need that every day.

    blessings,
    Laura Padgett, Author
    “Dolores, Like the River,” Westbow Press 2013

  3. I often pray, Lord help me to see them the way you do. It often changes my view of them and helps me to consider their feelings and perceptions even though I may not agree. God intervenes!

  4. Such good points to ponder here, Karen. I am a people pleaser so I tend to value other’s opinion of me a little too much but you are right- I don’t want to disregard other’s perception altogether. I want to be a woman who points others to Christ. I love your statements about mercy and truth. I think we often tend to have one without the other, but in Biblical terms the two are inseparable. Thanks for sharing this!

  5. My prayer lately has been that I will speak truth and be loving. As a people pleaser, I have a hard time standing up for truth or expressing my opinion for fear that someone won’t like what I have to say. But just as you pointed out God is pleased with our lives when we are balanced with truth and mercy. Thank you for this encouragement!

  6. When my daughter was in grade school she accidently hurt a girl during dodge ball. She was devastated and more so because the girl was sure she did it on purpose. The teacher asked the girl if Emily has ever hurt anyone before on purpose or even in her speech. When she said no, the teacher said, “Emily’s good name goes before her. It was an accident.” Even still she guards her name.

    1. Love that story! I often tell people that when they feel hurt by someone to always do something similar to what this teacher did. Just sift what happened through the filter of what you already know about them. If he or she is a friend, then it probably wasn’t intentional… forgive them and move on! Thanks Pamela!

  7. Gosh, I haven’t given much thought to “a good name”, but it’s right there…in Scripture. It makes sense. But then again, God always does in the long run. Enjoy your fall sports season….maybe you’re a Dawg fan or a Yellow Jacket….Falcon too? Regardless, have a blast concerning the pigskin, more so concerning God Almighty. Blessings.

    1. God doesn’t omit anything and He knew that exhibiting truth and mercy would go a long way in benefiting us as well as reflecting well on Him. and re: football. Yes to the Falcons, and the Dawgs, but I’m most basically a North Carolina Tarheel fan since I went to college there, so that would be a big NO to the Yellow Jackets! haha! Thanks for stopping by Kristi!

  8. Very good post. A good name is truly a blessing. Our identity in Jesus is better than a good name. He makes us whole and sanctifies us through what He did on the cross. God said “It is is finished.” My identity is less about my reputation and more about God making me new. It’s less about what I do and more about what Jesus has done.

  9. Love how football players reminded you of such a great Truth in the Word. It’s amazing how once we allow the Word into our hearts and minds, It springs forward in everyday situations to remind us of His love for us and our need for Him.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Marissa

  10. A great post. It reminds me that we are being observed. I’m surrounded by many loved ones, that I can only pray my actions in His name reflect love, kindness, mercy and forgiveness.

  11. Wow, you touched on some great points and truths here. That Jerome Bettis quote is awesome – love it! Such a great introduction to our lives as Christians.

    Thanks for sharing and linking up to the #SHINEbloghop.

    Wishing you a lovely evening!
    xoxo

  12. Jesus is the perfect example of what you have said here. He devoted Himself to studying His Father’s Words, yet met every situation with mercy and compassion. A great example to all of us.
    Blessings,

  13. Karen, absolutely love these thoughts of yours,
    “Most people have met Christians who are fantastic students of the scripture who can easily best just about anyone with their ability to expound the truth. But how many of them do so without compassion, kindness and sensitivity? On the other hand, far too many churches are filled with believers who are warm and considerate toward others, but lack the scriptural insight that’s the bedrock foundation of Biblical discernment.”

    To me these words capture the dichotomy we see so often in churches today. Sadly, in my view, both groups become ineffective in their testimonies. The middle ground, of course, is Christians who are students of the Bible and are warm and considerate towards others. “Sharing truth with mercy,” as you’ve said, is the attitude to strive for. Thank you for your wisdom and insight. You are an inspiration to me. God bless.

  14. Karen,
    It’s so lovely to “meet you” through Thought-Provoking Thursday today! Do you know Kathy Madonna Hart? She is a good friend of mine from way back, and i believe she works at Dr. Stanley’s church as well.

    I love how you broke down this passage for us. For many years, I must confess that I leaned a little too much one way, and I am praying for God to help me to be more balanaced in my thinking and living. in regards to Truth and Mercy. May God show us how to live it out in a way that pleases Him.

    Blessings,
    Lyli

    1. I’m sorry that I don’t know Kathy. It’s a big church, and InTouch isn’t located on the same campus.
      I think we all need to ask God to help us blend truth and mercy so that others will see Him through our lives! Thanks for visiting Lyli!

  15. I love where you discuss the importance of mercy and truth being “intertwined.” I’ve been to so many churches as well that had one or the other. I spent many years filled with mercy, but no truth. Then I found truth and lost the mercy half. It’s been in the last 5 years where the 2 came together and brought a beautiful life of meaning. Wonderful and simple advice that father gave his son :). My husband is a huge Steelers fan!

    1. I think as the world gets darker we as the church must be careful to hold fast to the truth and mix it with His mercy! Thanks for visiting Candace!

  16. Hey Karen,

    I came over today on SHINE link up. We were “parked” near each other.

    I am a woman who loves football as well – college football. And, it is fun this time of year as we gear up and get ready for the season to start!

    Love the quote you shared about not messing up the good name~

    Hope you have a blessed day,
    Melanie

  17. Hi Karen,
    I’m excited for football season too (I’m a Steelers fan!) and your words about bringing honor to our heavenly father are words to reflect on since it’s our hope that our actions point the way to him! I’m visiting from Holley’s link-up today — nice to meet you! 🙂

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