Everyone is born with a boatload of foolishness (Proverbs 22:15). Our natural tendency is to choose poorly and experience bad consequences. What toddler doesn't think it's great fun to stick a wet finger in an electrical outlet?
One thing a foolish person doesn't care about is his reputation. The screaming, crying 2-year-old being dragged out of the mall couldn't care less about how he looks. But God tells us that a good reputation is more valuable than riches (Proverbs 22:1). When all we want is wealth, we’ll waste anything to get it. When we guard a good name, we guard every area of our lives.
For example, people who value their reputations make wise financial decisions. They understand the pitfalls of borrowing money and co-signing for loans, the blessings of generosity, and the stupidity of taking advantage of the poor. They know it's easy to find excuses not to work, but hard workers are extraordinary and find themselves in extraordinary places (Proverbs 22:13 and Proverbs 22:29).
People who value their reputations guard their social lives. They won't cozy up to risky situations, immoral behavior, or hot-tempered people because they know entanglements there lead to disaster (Proverbs 22:3-8, Proverbs 22:14, Proverbs 22:24-25).
People who value their reputations guard what goes into their heads and comes out of their mouths so they are prepared to apply knowledge to a problem and speak words of wisdom when questioned (Proverbs 22:11-12, Proverbs 22:17-20).
People who value their reputations also value the reputations of their children and teach them to make wise choices (Proverbs 22:6, Proverbs 22:15).
And most importantly, when God’s people value their reputations they do so to bring glory to His name, not their own (Proverbs 22:4). Since foolishness doesn't disappear with age, the remedy is to learn the wisdom of God and then discipline ourselves to obey His instructions. The book of Proverbs is a great place to start.
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