Shakespeare, via Juliet, once posed the question “What’s in a name?” The answer is more complex than either the bard or his lovestruck character lets on.
A name, even at the time Shakespeare was writing, is more than just a way of uniquely identifying one human from the multitude. A name is a reputation. Romeo being a Montague gave him a reputation earned by generations of people who bore that same name. The same is true of names today, though modern society is loath to admit it.
Is a good name really more desirable than great wealth? Yes. The wealthy are often maligned and ill-spoken of. However, those who have a good name are spoken well of regardless of their economic status.
More, there are names that are better than anything this world can offer. Abraham is called the friend of God. David is called a man after God’s own heart. These are their reputations; their names. A name of this type is of incomparable worth and should be desired above many other things. Luke wrote his gospel and the book of Acts to Theophilus, which means lover of God. How will I be remembered by those who know me? If God were to call me home today, what would be said? That is my name. That is what the proverb refers to. A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, in part because that name speaks of how I live my life; my character, where wealth just speaks to financial savvy.
What will be said of me? What is said of me now? Am I living so as to attain a good name? If not, I need to set that right.