It is said that a good name once lost is lost forever, that a reputation tarnished is irreparable. Solomon knew the truth when he wrote Ecclesiastes 10, verse 1.

“Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.”–Ecclesiastes 10:1

Graphic right? But what is he saying here? In the same way you would throw out perfume or maybe a drink because of a dead fly discovered in it, we tend to reject men of prominence and reputation upon the basis of one misdeed or mistake. A good name is everything. In Proverbs, Solomon cites that “a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches”. It is something of worth and inherent value. Many of the greatest minds in history recognized this. It is an ancient and well-known proverb that a man with a bad name is already half-hanged. Though, more eloquently put by the great playwright, William Shakespeare:

“Good name, in a man or woman, is the immediate jewel of their souls. He that filches from me my good name, robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed.”–Shakespeare

Now, some doubt the possibility of the existence of a man called William Shakespeare; saying a single man could not possibly have produced so much content with such diversity over so short a time. Others accredit his many plays to the work of a coalition or conglomerate of writers using a common pen-name. Personally, I feel organic inspiration is just as real as divine inspiration and can possess a man to write as Shakespeare did.

Whatever your conviction or persuasion, Shakespeare’s name lives on in glory as one of the greatest writers to ever live, the standard for high-litterature, and the muse of every playwright since. His name is one that has been praised by its contemporaries and equals and criticized by those unable to understand his writing. But none disrespect his name. The inability to understand his language and style often increases the respect given him. Shakespeare, real or fiction, one man or many has a good name.

And really, that’s what all of us should strive for: to have a good name; to leave that legacy. For as Solomon tells it, all else is vanity under the sun. We live, we store up wealth and possessions to be squandered by those who come after. Man and beast, we both die, we both return to the dust. The only thing of worth in this life is serving God, glorifying, magnifying, and loving Him. All that will be remembered of us is our good name, who we were to the world, and what we did for others.

A good name is worth more than great riches and can be destroyed by only one action of misconduct. Live above reproach. Live righteously, soberly, having peace with both God and man.

As always, thanks for reading.

the anonymous novelist 

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