The Anchor of Hope (126)

Proverbs 22:1
A good name is to be more desired than great riches, Favor is better than silver and gold.

At the place where I work, the management and engineers consistently get rental cars to take them to out of town meetings and other company facilities. The cars that are delivered are mostly normal sedans and SUVs from companies like Ford, KIA, Hyundai, and Chevrolet. But there is one middle management employee who always gets the best cars. And no one knows why. One time a Mercedes was delivered for him, and the next time a Jaguar. I asked him what he did to get such exclusive service. He didn’t know. But his name may hold the key to this preferential treatment. It is James “Jimmy” Dean. We think someone at Hertz is either a movie buff or a sausage connoisseur.

In the verse above, the word “good” does not occur in the original text. It is supplied by the translators to show that “name” here is not a neutral concept. The two halves of the verse are parallel. Thus, “name” being analogous with “favor”, implies “good name” or something that brings favor from someone who considers the person attached to that name. Some older versions translate “favor” as “loving favor”, meaning being beloved by others. In both cases, a good name or being beloved is far more important than any wealth.

There are various people spoken of in Scripture who obtained favor with man – Joseph (Gen 39.-24), Daniel (Dan 1.9), and the early Church (Acts 2.46-7), but only two that I have found who are explicitly stated as to have found favor with both God and man, Samuel (1Sm 2.26) and Jesus (Lk 2.52). The favor being referred to in these passages increased. It does not appear fully formed. It comes as part of your spiritual maturity and as people come to know you. So what must one do to develop this favor?

The Scripture is our guide. “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man” (Prov 3.3-4). Kindness and Truth. Intentionally make them a part of who you are, never be separated from them, and you will develop favor with God and man.

But how many of us pursue one or the other, but not both. We observe it all the time on social media. One person is too kind to condemn anything as sin. Whereas another person tactlessly condemns for mere preferences. Kindness without Truth or Truth without Kindness are equally wrong. The former makes righteousness frivolous. The latter makes righteousness severe and legalistic.

We need to understand that these concepts are two sides of the same coin. Yes, one or the other will naturally come to the forefront in differing circumstances, but they should never be separated. Being “Kind” by not speaking out against sin and error is actually being unkind, for that person is still left dwelling in his darkness. Yet, not adorning the Truth with Kindness when one speaks is actually not presenting Truth in all its beauty; thus it is not really truth.

When people think of your name, what do they think? What impression have you made upon them? I tend to confidently speak the truth without enough forethought to choosing my words in a kindly fashion. Analyze your own tendencies. Does the fear of man keep you from speaking truth? Or maybe you impulsively speak without thinking what damage your words may create. Sometimes confronting sin must cause pain, but try to humbly speak as a sinner to a fellow sinner.

Has the favor with which you have been graciously given with God, translated into favor with man because of Kindness and Truth growing and maturing in you? Make a good name for yourself and bind these virtues to your heart. The world’s gold is dim by comparison.