A GOOD name, or reputation, is so valuable that in some lands it is legally protected. That may include protection against libel (a published or broadcast defamatory statement) and slander (an oral defamatory statement). This calls to mind the ancient saying: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great wealth; to be respected is better than silver and gold.” (Proverbs 22:1) How can we earn both a good name and the respect of others? Excellent suggestions can be found in the Bible.
For example, consider what the Bible says in Psalm 15. In answer to the question, “Who may be a guest in [God’s] tent?” the psalmist wrote: “The one who is . . . practicing what is right and speaking the truth in his heart. He does not slander . . . , he does nothing bad to his neighbor, and he does not defame his friends. He rejects anyone who is contemptible . . . He does not go back on his promise, even when it is bad for him. . . . And he does not accept a bribe.” (Psalm 15:1-5) Would you not respect someone who lived by those beautiful principles?
Another quality that contributes to gaining respect is humility. “Before glory there is humility,” says Proverbs 15:33. Consider: The humble see where they can make improvement and work hard to do so. Also, they are willing to apologize if they have offended someone. (James 3:2) The proud are not like that but instead are quick to take offense. “Pride is before a crash, and a haughty spirit before stumbling,” says Proverbs 16:18.
What, though, if someone smears your good name? Should you react hastily, perhaps in the heat of anger? Ask yourself, ‘If I try to defend my name, will I actually be giving wider exposure to the lie?’ While legal action may be appropriate at times, the Bible gives this wise advice: “Do not rush into a legal dispute.” Rather, “plead your case with your neighbor.” (Proverbs 25:8, 9) * This more measured approach can also spare you costly legal expenses.
The Bible is far more than a book about religion. It is a trustworthy guidebook for life. All who apply its wisdom cultivate qualities that merit deep respect and contribute to a good name.