Bridges on Proverbs 22:1
 
Charles Bridges on Proverbs 22:1
 
 1 
 2 
 3 
 4 
 5 
 6 
 7 
 8 
 9 
 10 
 11 
 12 
 13 
 14 
 15 
 16 
 17-21 
 22-23 
 24-25 
 26-27 
 28 
 29 
 

1.  A good name† is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. {loving...: or, favour is better than, etc}
 
BUT what is this good name, here commended as a precious jewel? Not the name which the Babel-builders would “make to themselves.” (Genesis 11:4.) Not as Absalom, who reared a pillar to “keep his name in remembrance,” or rather to commemorate his shame. (2 Samuel 18:18.) It is not the popular voice. So different is God’s standard from man’s, that to have “all men speak well of us,” would be a bad name!† So apt are men to “put darkness for light; and light for darkness,”† that the reputation too often serves in the place of reality, the false glare for the generous principle, the shadow for the substance, the tinsel for the gold. The good name is gained by godly consistency.† The possessor is either unconscious of the gift, or humbled with the conviction that it is wholly undeserved. The loving favor connected with it is often seen in early childhood.† It was the heavenly seal upon the Pentecostal Christians.† And every servant of God values it as a trust and talent for his Master’s service and glory.†
Such is its value, that it is rather to be chosen than great riches, than silver and gold.† A bye-word may be attached to riches.† Add to which — “They fly away upon eagles’ wings.”† But the good name “will be in everlasting remembrance.”† And even now it brings confidence and respect.† It largely adds to usefulness; gives authority to reproof, counsel, and example; so that if the world cannot love, neither can they despise. Hence the Christian obligation to be “blameless, as well as harmless, to shine as lights in the world.”† Hence the honor of “having a good report of all men, and of the truth itself.”† Hence the qualification for efficiency in the sacred office — “blameless, having a good report of them which are without.”† But how often do the “dead flies” spoil “the precious ointment”! (Ecclesiastes 7:1; 10:1.) Satan, when he cannot hinder the instruments, will blemish them, to give currency to error, and to stumble the ungodly and unstable. (2 Samuel 12:14.)
We must not indeed overvalue man’s estimation, much less take it as the standard of our principles, or the motive of our conduct. Yet we must not on the other hand indiscreetly underrate it — ‘I never thought’ — said the wise Sir M. Hale — ‘that reputation was the thing primarily to be looked after in the exercise of virtue (for that were to affect the substance for the sake of the shadow); but I looked at virtue and the worth of it as that which was the first desirable, and reputation as a handsome and useful accession to it.’†
Some however judge — ‘So long as my conscience is clear, I care not what the world think or say of me. Other consciences are not my judges.’ Now in resisting the efforts of the world to turn us aside from the path of duty, ‘we may seasonably comfort ourselves in our own innocency, fly for refuge against the injuries of tongues into our own consciences, as into a castle; and there repose ourselves in security, disregarding the reproaches of evil men.’† But it should be our great care to stop the mouths of gainsayers; and while we count it a “very small matter to be judged of man’s judgment,” most anxiously to “provide things honest, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.”†
Yet precious as this blessing is, take care that it be not purchased at the expense of conscience. Far better that others should blot our name, than that we should wound our consciences. ‘Two things there are,’ saith St. Augustine, ‘whereof every man should be specially chary and tender — his conscience, and his credit. But that of his conscience must be his first care; this of his name and credit must be content to come in the second place. Let him first be sure to guard his conscience well; and then may he have a due regard of his name also. Let it be his first care to secure all within, by making his peace with God and in his own breast. That done — but not before — let him look abroad if he will, and cast about as well as he can, to strengthen his reputation with and before the world.’†
But though it be true, that reputation and the affection of others are better than riches; yet must we not forget that they may be in themselves vanity and a snare. And as seeking them is the infirmity, or rather (when made an idol) the sin of a noble mind, the most severe discipline is needed to preserve Christian simplicity and singleness. But “the honor that cometh from God only” is always safe. And that he should register a good name in the annals of the church,† “in the book of remembrance,† in the book of life”† — Oh! is not this infinitely above all this world’s glory?† And how gladly will he own these jewels at the day of his appearing!† How sure and glorious is his promise to his faithful servant — “I will not blot out his name out of the book of life; but I will confess his name before my Father and his angels”! (Revelation 3:5.)