Judas. Peter. Hitler. Abraham Lincoln.
Famous names, all of them. Except two of them would be better described as infamous rather than famous. Names are things that last in the memories of people, for good or for bad.
And so in this chapter, Solomon talks about another way to find what’s good in life. He says,
A good name is better than fine perfume. (7:1)
In other words, if you want to find what’s good in life, then seek to have a good name. Build for yourself a name that you and others can respect.
How do we do that?
First, as I mentioned in my last blog, keep a right perspective in life. By keeping perspective, it helps you keep your priorities in order, and to make right decisions in life.
Second, heed advice from wise people (7:5-6). Don’t just listen to what you want to hear from your friends. But when they warn you about a bad direction you’re going in, be humble enough to listen. Ironically, this was something Solomon failed to do. It doesn’t say as much in scripture, but I have to believe people like the prophet Nathan warned him about the direction his life started to go in. But instead, Solomon relied on his own wisdom, and it let to his downfall.
Third, don’t love money so much that you let it corrupt you. (7) So many people from politicians to even Christian ministers have done this to their shame. As Paul wrote,
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. (I Timothy 6:10)
Note here that it’s not money in itself that’s the problem. But it is the love of money that has ruined more than one good name.
Fourth, finish what you start. Remember that what you start is not so important as what you finish. So many times, people try something new, but when things start getting difficult, they quickly abandon it and give up. Their pride takes a hit because what they thought they’d be able to do easily doesn’t turn out to be so easy after all. But Solomon says,
The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. (8)
In other words, when things get tough, stick with it. Be patient. When you give up too easily, it speaks badly of your character. Jesus once made the following statement concerning a person who had failed to consider the cost, and couldn’t complete a project, but the same could be said of a person who keeps skipping from project to project but never completes anything. Jesus said,
For if he lays the foundation (to a tower) and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ (Luke 14:29-30)
Finally, control your temper. So many times we do foolish things because we can’t control our own temper. We hurt the people we love, we make rash decisions, and do other things that cause us to look back on our lives with regret. Solomon wrote,
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. (9)
How about you? What kind of character are you building in your life?