Read: Proverbs 22:1
Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. (NLT)
If I were writing this Proverb today, I would add fame to the mix alongside riches. Fame and riches are the twin gods at which our culture now bows to pay homage. People want to be rich and famous, and would do just about anything to get both.
Have you noticed how quickly people are to appear on TV news to talk about some unfortunate event that has befallen their family? I was stunned not too long ago when a mom and dad paraded their teenage son in front of the cameras to talk about the many years he had been held hostage by a child molester—just a few hours after his rescue. Or how about young women who are willing to take their clothes off to get on TV? There’s not a “Miss America” pageant anymore where at least one of the contestants is exposed, no pun intended, for having racy photos circulating on the Internet. And what about all the “tell all” books that come out after some aide leaves the service of a well-known politician?
It seems that far too many people today gain fame when they’ve made no real contribution to the world. Many of today’s brightest stars are famous for being famous—or famous for being infamous, which, if it gains them time in the spotlight, is perceived as good since the results justify the means.
The Bible says rather than being famous for being wealthy (or being bad or even being famous), we ought to pursue good character, and allow our reputation to grow for that reason alone. God doesn’t care how much money we have, how many cars are in our garage, what kind of clothes we wear, how big our crib is, or how many people want to be like us. When we stand before God someday—and someday will be sooner than we expect—our lives will be evaluated on the character we’ve forged during our years on earth. If we were known for charity, kindness, generosity, humility, and the like, that, along with love for God will count. Everything else will evaporate in the presence of the One who judges the content of our character.
As you get older, it is easy to pick on young people and point out all their flaws (which I’ve heard is proof you’ve gotten old), but I am especially alarmed at today’s youth culture and its obsession with fame and wealth. Ask today’s youth what they want to do with their lives, and far too many of them speak of the kinds of things that will bring them celebrity status, and all that goes with it, rather than that which will actually add value and better the world. How sad…and disturbing. And they alone are not to blame; some of that has to fall at the feet of their parents.
I think it is high time that parents once again begin to teach their children that reverence for God, sterling moral character, and sacrifice for the good of humanity rather than fame and wealth are what lead to a good life. Parents need to wean their children off the negative influence of this corrosive media culture—and that will be quite a challenge in this day and age—and begin to pour into their lives the eternal values of the Kingdom rather than the fleeting values of this world.
I am grateful for my own father, who taught me from my earliest years on, values that are best captured by this profound little poem he often quoted,
Tis one life will soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last!
That pretty well sums it up, wouldn’t you say?
“The real measure of our wealth is how much we should be worth if we lost our money.” ~J.H. Jowett
Your Assignment, Should You Choose To Accept It:
Take 10 minutes to write our your personal constitution—what you believe in as non-negotiable core values, what you are willing to stand for, and die for, what you want to be remembered for at the end of your life, and most importantly, how you want God to see you when you stand before him. Review it every day this week—and most of all, live it every day this week.