• Proverbs 16:1-22:16

 “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches…” –Proverbs 22:1, NKJV

Striving. Every day I wake and, if I am honest with myself, I am striving for something. Some days that striving is more holy than others. Sometimes I seemingly wander aimlessly with the striving be to only make it through the work day.

Among many other exhortations, the proverbs here highlight something of which we should all be aware. The promises of God throughout scripture push us toward honesty, integrity, fairness, compassion, charity, and giving. The fruit of the Spirit that lives within those who believe, “against such things there is no law” (Galatians).

I can testify that having a good name eradicates strife before it can even knock on my door. In graduate school, there was a conversation posed to the department faculty about the lack of “rigor” in one unnamed student’s approach to earning their doctorate. The conversation, apparently, went on for months. Months!

I learned of it while chatting with one faculty member, as he wanted my opinion on the subject. Upon asking for details in order to understand the situation in question, I realized the unnamed student was me. When I revealed this to the professor with whom I chatted, he started laughing. I asked if I should come to the next faculty meeting and he quickly said he would take care of it. After that meeting, I asked how it went. He said the complaining student begin their case against the unnamed student, and he interrupted to ask for the name of the student. The complaining party stated, repeatedly, that the name of the student should not matter, it was the rigor of the program that was in jeopardy. The professor stated to the room that maybe they should consider which student it was in question, to which the room half-heartedly agreed. He then asked the complaining party if the student was me. After some stammering, the complaining person admitted that it was.

The professor described the room as reacting in the following series of actions: furrowed brows, sat back in their seats, looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, told the complaining person they needed to spend their time differently, removed the topic from that and all future agendas, and moved on with their meetings.

You see, I quietly stayed at the head of all five years of graduate school. I volunteered my time to work with students to develop their own research agenda, and I worked with faculty in support of their research. My grades were impeccable. And in my first year of my doctoral program, I was chosen as one of forty doctoral students in the nation to participate in a renowned conference typically reserved for students years ahead of me in their programs. I didn’t talk about my grades or achievements.  I simply worked hard. Though my quick tongue could sometimes work against me, there could be no question about the quality of my work. For another student to claim my approach lacked rigor was patently absurd. Because of the quality of my “name,” I needn’t say a single word in my own defense. When my name was revealed, no further conversation occurred. (Which was probably good, considering the quick tongue and all!)

The point is this: do your work. Do it well. Do what is right. It may not earn you promotions, awards, or accolades. There may never be a parade in your name. But when the accuser comes against you, he will have no traction, for your name, the name hidden in Christ, will speak for itself without you having to say a word.

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