Summary: One’s name or reputation is a precious possession It needs to be guarded and cherished. This sermon calls upon the follower of Christ to do just that.
Something Better Than Perfume
Have you ever heard of the expression, “Your name will be mud?” Do you know where it originated? Samuel Alexander Mudd was the doctor who set John Wilkes Booth’s leg after Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theater in 1865. Mudd claimed he didn’t recognize Booth–didn’t really know him. But a military court thought otherwise. He was found guilty as an accessory after the fact in the assassination and was sentenced to life in a federal prison.
But that’s not the end of the story. While in prison, Mudd saved the lives of many prisoners and guards during a yellow fever epidemic. In 1869 he was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson. However, his name persists to this day as one of derision. A name is a hard thing to shake and so is the reputation that it stands for.
Ecclesiates 7:1 says, “A good name is better than fine perfume.”
Also, Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches.”
In our Scripture passage we have two men spoken of by the apostle John. For all time they have the reputation found in these few verses. It doesn’t really matter if they changed for not. Their names, and therefore, their reputations, are forever etched in history.
Diotrephes (verse 9)
• Loves to be first
• Malicious gossiper
Demetrius (verse 12)
• Well spoken of by everyone–the world as well as the church
• Implies consistency
Which name would you like to bear? Demetrius, of course!
Each one of us carries three names:
1. The name others give us
2. The name God gives us
3. The name we give ourselves.
1. The Name Others Give Us.
• Parental name
• Nickname–given by friends and enemies
• Marital name
• Special name given by our sweetheart
• Name that describes one’s character or reputation
- negatively: “Stingy,” “Lazyhead”
- positively: “Sunshine”
- Bible examples: Demetrius, Onesimus (useful),
Sometimes we deserve our reputation; other times we don’t, but once given it is hard to change the image it congers up.
Illus.: “Edwin Booth Carries the Wrong Last Name”
In 1864, a train was pulling out of the station in Jersey City, New Jersey. A young man, who was late, tried to board it as it was moving out. He slipped and began to fall. A man who was on the train reached out with his hand and caught him. The young man who was trying to board the train was Robert Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s son. The man who saved him was Edwin Booth, John Wilkes Booth’s brother. When news of this reached the White House, Lincoln sent a personal note of thanks. The press picked up it and Edwin Booth became a bit of a celebrity. It really helped his career as an actor. But a year later, after the assassination, he was so ashamed of his name and fearful for his life, that he went into hiding for quite some time. Eventually he returned to the stage and was later recognized nationally for his outstanding career on the stage.
I repeat, “A good name is better than fine perfume or great riches.” The second name is...
2. The Name God gives You
This name is based on two factors: (1) our relationship with God, and (2) our inner character.
Isaiah 56:5: “I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.”
Isaiah 62:2: “The nations will see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory; you will be called by a new name.”
Revelation 3:12: “Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down our of heaven from my God; and I will write on him my new name.”
God has been in the name changing business for quite some time. He changes Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many nations). He changed Sarai (contentious) to Sarah (princess). He changed Jacob (deceiver) to Israel (having power with God).
Jesus gave new names to His disciples. Simon (hearing) to Peter (rock). James and John to Boanerges (sons of thunder). He even changed the titles of his followers from servants to friends.
What name do you suppose Jesus has given you?
When Napoleon’s horse ran away, a lowly private caught him and Napoleon said, “Thank you Captain.” The soldier at once packed his belongings, moved to the officers quarters and went to mess with them. The emperor had called him Captain and he considered himself to be just that. In the same way, those who receive Christ are called the sons of God (John 1:12). Is it not appropriate for them to pack their belongs and move into the higher life to which Jesus has appointed them? We have been given a new name!