I recently read in Genesis 5 how Enoch walked with God, which led me to Hebrews 11 where it says, “Enoch had this testimony, that he pleased God.” What a fantastic progression: from walking with to pleasing to having a testimony – his reputation followed after him. He daily spent quality time with God, causing him to live in such a way that he represented God well. He had a good name.
Proverbs 22:1 tells us, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.” By Enoch’s example, we see that a good name will outlive its owner. Favor and recognition often come with a good name. Most of us like to associate with those held in high regard, with those who have upstanding reputations. The connection makes us feel better about ourselves, like we are special because they are special. In reality, these relationships might improve people’s opinions of us, but at the end of the day, who we are and the lives we live need to stand on their own merit – that when our name is mentioned, others want to be associated with us.
Almost everyone has nice things said about them at their funeral, but our goal should be to live in such a way that good things are said of us while we’re still alive. This is what people really think of us.
The verses mentioned caused me to reflect on my life and wonder, “What is my testimony? Is my name said with joy or pride? Do I bring pleasure to my Maker?” I certainly try, but unfortunately at times I fail. Then I realized it’s not about being perfect but about spending quality time with Jesus, because the more we spend time with someone, the more we become like them.
This is also true when hanging out with those of a poor reputation. First Corinthians 15:33 says, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” Just as a name can be good and well spoken of (Abraham Lincoln), it can also be bad and live on in infamy (John Wilkes Booth).
Here are a few typical responses. “They’re a hard worker and a great employee” or “they’re extremely lazy and I hope no one asks me for a reference.” “They’re always friendly and would give you the shirt off their back” or “they’re so negative, they never have a good thing to say.” “One of the sweetest people I know” or “they’re so full of themselves it’s hard to want to be around them.” It’s human nature to have opinions and, in a way, we are all under some form of scrutiny. So what is said of us? How will we be remembered? To have a good name, we must live with integrity, associate with people we want to emulate, and strive to have a positive effect within our sphere of influence.
Taking this thought a step further, what we do in this life, especially when it comes to our creative outlets, will have their own legacy. For example, a painting can have an effect on us though we know little or nothing about the artist. A quilt can warm us when the quilter is gone; a book can instruct us without the author present. A song can invoke emotion when heard on the radio. The arts have an ability to move us even after their creator is deceased. The art lives on separately from the artist, yet bearing his/her image. Our creative expression can make a difference in people’s lives, even those whom we’ve never met. Because our form of art could live on for many generations, it’s important that we create that which is good and make sure our reputation matches what we say or produce. May our testimony be as Enoch’s: that we please God.
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