A Good Name | Sermon Series

Rev. Rich Rudowske

About The Episode

In this episode of Essentially Translatable, Rev. Rich Rudowske shares a sermon given at Concordia Seminary, St Louis on overcoming jealousy and the significance of maintaining a good reputation.

This sermon draws from Daniel chapter 6 and the Eighth Commandment with explanation from Luther’s Small Catechism. Rich reflects on personal anecdotes to illustrate the detrimental effects of jealousy and emphasizes the importance of protecting and honoring others’ reputations as commanded in the Eighth Commandment.

Celebrating the success of others can help combat feelings of jealousy. By returning to the teachings of Jesus Christ, we find peace and fulfillment by bestowing a good name onto others.

Rich: [00:00:00] And when we have been loved and saved in this way, there’s no room for jealousy when we do these things and we will do them. They’re so easy, but we’re called to return once again to Jesus, the name above all names, who has given us a good reputation and a good name before our father.

Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of Essentially Translatable brought to you by Lutheran Bible Translators. I’m Rich Rudowske, your host, and for today’s content, I want to share with you a sermon that I got to deliver at Concordia Seminary a few years back. And preaching is one of the things I love to do because, you know, you get that opportunity to unpack God’s word and consider what it’s saying, how that may apply, share some of the experience that you’ve had and how that may interface with what God’s word is saying.

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It is called A Good Name, and the texts that were read that day are the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel, as well as the text of the Eighth Commandment from Luther’s Catechism, and it’s explanation. So just kind of weaving together this idea of a good name and jealousy and how those things all come together.

And what the Lord who has redeemed us and called us to be his own people in Christ, speak to us about those things. So I hope you enjoy this sermon.

Grace and peace to you from God, our Father, from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. When I was a new pastor serving in Kettering, Ohio, I bought a house that just happened to be right across the street from the church that I served at in a [00:03:00] small subdivision that was built on land originally owned by the congregation when it was a church plant and sold to fund some of the development and the building of that church.

So my house and my yard were right across the street from the church and right across the street from it. It was another house built in exactly the same style as mine, with a mirror image of the house plan, the yard plan, and so on. And our neighbors in that house, whom I will call Tim and Justine to protect the innocent, were a young couple that had no kids, and they had great paying jobs.

I was a brand new graduate of this fine institution, which meant I had no money. I also had five small children and a pretty tired wife. She was pretty. But she was also tired. And, uh, Tim and Justine had all the newest stuff done on their home. They had new brick and tuck pointing, newly resurfaced [00:04:00] driveway.

These houses had been built in the 70s, this was the early 2000s. We bought our home from the original owners who had let the place go some. A number of things needed to be repaired. The brick and the trim looked a little dated. The driveway had been around a while. Their yard was perfect. Grass was thick and green.

They had great landscaping. They knew the names of all of their plants. We had green ground cover of some sort in our yard. I’m not sure that it was all grass. I don’t know what the names of any of the plants were growing around our house or even if they were supposed to be there or not. We had some massive pine trees that needed to be removed and we had not a lot of resources to get that done.

So we had the tale of two houses on Concordia circle in Kettering, Ohio. The Dayton daily news had an annual contest on an annual basis, gave an award for the best lawn and curb appeal in each little [00:05:00] town around Dayton. And guess what? In the spring of 2006, Tim and Justine. won the award for best lawn in our town that summer.

Then as we got close to fall, I noticed one of Tim’s perfectly manicured pine trees, a little off color, getting a little Brown and it seemed not to be doing well. A couple of weeks later, there was a bit of a windstorm, nothing major really. It didn’t knock that perfectly manicured, but slightly Brown pine tree over onto their perfectly manicured landscape yard and a little bit on their house.

And, you know what I did? I saw Tim outside working on cleaning up that pine tree in that house, and I said, Tim, boy, that is really a shame to see your tree down like that. I’m so sorry about that. But you know what I felt like inside? I was full of satisfaction and glee that Tim’s perfect yard got set back a little bit.

And you know what that’s called? That’s called jealousy. And [00:06:00] it is ugly. And I’m not proud of it. Jealousy. Jealousy. Yet the heart of things for the Christian, jealousy. is basically when you’re angry with someone, but when you stop and think about it, you’re not really angry with them. You’re angry with God at the fact that he has given them more than what you have.

And you resent that, giving him a better situation. And it means you’re angry with God because he’s the one who gives all things, all resources and so on. It gets easy to be jealous of people. My pastor in Concordia, Missouri, who is a graduate of this institution from the same class as me, by the way, that dude is as skinny as a rail.

And he can eat multiple doughnuts in one sitting, he exercises zero minutes a day and his wife is always posting pictures of all the baked goods that they create together and their perfect little family eats and none of them gain any weight and meanwhile as I’ve been talking about it I’ve gained five pounds in this pulpit right now just thinking about the doughnuts they eat and that’s Not fair.

It’s not fair. I run multiple [00:07:00] 5Ks every week, and I’m still up here gaining weight just thinking about the food they eat. I think everybody has somebody in their life where you feel like, this person has it all together. And when that person falls a little bit, or your perfect brother or sister in law puts on a couple of pounds, or their kids don’t get in the best school, that little feeling of happiness that you get, just that little bit there, that That is called jealousy, and it’s ugly.

And jealousy is what drove the leaders of Persia to plot against Daniel, and the text read here, Daniel 6, just at the beginning, it pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, these governors or administrators throughout this rather large kingdom that Darius rules over, and over them, verse 2, three high officials, of whom Daniel was one.

So Daniel’s already been elevated over these other rulers. And to whom these satraps have to give account. So these are powerful people, but Daniel’s a little more powerful than they are. [00:08:00] Uh, so that the king may suffer no loss. Verse 3, Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him.

And the text says in the version read, The king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Or a different translation could read, It was already in the works. The plan had already been set in motion, And folks knew. That Daniel is going to be set above everyone, uh, over the whole kingdom. And as you heard in the reading, they looked for a way to discredit him.

The other folks, they became jealous because Daniel had something that they didn’t have. He was recognized in a way they weren’t recognized. They looked for a way to discredit him, but they couldn’t find one unless it had to do with his god. But jealousy drove them to essentially trick the king. You into punishing Daniel for this matter of his religion, jealousy.

Jealousy is what often drives us to break the 8th commandment that we [00:09:00] read here a little bit ago as well. At first blush, it looks like the 8th commandment should be easy enough to keep. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. That sounds like, okay, I’m not actively testifying falsely against my neighbor.

I’m not even in court or anything like that. But uh, of course, Luther’s explanation drawn from all over the scripture summarizes what is really the intent behind that commandment and how often we break this commandment and how impossible it is to keep. We should fear and love God that we do not tell lies about our neighbor.

How hard is that to betray him, to slander him, even just the littlest bit to hurt his reputation? But we should fear and love God that we defend him, like all the time, that we speak well of him, even if he or she doesn’t deserve that. And, this one always gets me, explain everything in the kindest possible way.

Guilty. That one, that one is a killer. Explained everything in the possible way. That last part gets me every time. And in [00:10:00] Luther’s large catechism, he goes even further, writing, besides our own body, You’re referring to the commandments that precede this. Besides our own body, our spouse, and our temporal property, we have one more treasure that is indispensable to us, namely, our honor and our good reputation.

For it is important that we not live among people in public disgrace and dishonor. Therefore, God does not want our neighbors deprived of their reputation. Deprived of their honor, deprived of their character any more than he would their money and possessions. He wants everyone to maintain self respect before their spouse, child, servant, and neighbor.

But how often we look at others and see what they have and what we don’t have. How often we think about how we’d like to bring them down a notch. And we find a way to discredit them and lower them and raise ourselves up. It’s the way of doing things, [00:11:00] according to the way of the world. It’s the way, the natural way, that our sinful flesh reacts.

And many times we don’t even know that we’re doing it. It’s so harmless. We may be Gossip a little bit about something that didn’t go well. We point out someone’s flaws, not to them necessarily, but to someone else. We have a deep seated fear and anger, but often driven by our jealousy, a deep seated fear and anger that somebody has something that we think we should have, but it’s so important to have a good name that Luther goes on writing in the large catechism, if something is done in secret, even if it’s true, if it’s not our place to bring it up, And to judge it publicly, which he means later on, he explains, if you don’t hold the role of judge, then keep it to yourself.

Even if it’s true, keep it to yourself. In many of the places I’ve had the privilege to work, and in many of the folks I’ve been in contact with in my time with Lutheran Bible translators, I’ve seen how in some cultures, this dynamic of honor and shame is even more pronounced, much more [00:12:00] pronounced, than we have it in our Western culture.

This idea of shame is so strong, and the idea of going to great lengths, To protect your neighbor’s honor is so meaningful and so palpable in those contexts. And it is a matter of life and death in some situations. Keeping the Eighth Commandment is honestly a matter of life and death. There are some places where some people would rather suffer death, even death by their own hand, than suffer public shame and humiliation, even over what may seem to us to be the most minor things and so this keeping the 8th commandment and not being driven by jealousy is critical and make no mistake about it for you men and women who are studying for pastoral ministry And Diaconal ministry, and for you folks who lead them here in this seminary and instruct and teach them, jealousy is a killer in ministry.

Jealousy is an absolute killer in ministry. It’s so easy to see that somebody else has a better call. then you do, or somehow it appears that they have it [00:13:00] easier than you do, or their congregation is growing or their ministry is so much more vibrant or more confessional, or whatever it is you think that it should be, for you that you’re not quite seeing and you see somebody else has it, there is no win in comparison when it comes to ministry and so many brothers and sisters working in ministry become victims of friendly fire from other colleagues in ministry who are simply jealous that somebody else has what they think they should have, You But, honestly, since it’s God who ultimately places us where we serve and in the circumstances in which we serve, it’s an anger and a dissatisfaction with God that causes jealousy and the sinful behavior which springs from it.

And it’s from that that we’re called repeatedly to turn away, to repent and return to what we are called to in the Eighth Commandment. Psalm 22, verse 1, a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches. A good name is to be chosen rather [00:14:00] than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. The writer of the Proverbs said, This great reputation is more valuable than all the money that there is.

There is power in a good name. And notice what Daniel, who is highly regarded, does when he’s falsely accused of ill intent toward the king and the kingdom. He doesn’t react against the king or the king’s colleagues who have betrayed him. He doesn’t seek to disgrace them the way that he has disgraced them.

In fact, he doesn’t say, One bad thing about them, he puts his trust in the one whose name is above all names. He trusts that his reputation will be restored or that he will suffer loss, even maybe loss of life, but he puts it in God’s hands where it belongs instead of stooping to the world’s games and playing it their way.

And the Lord delivers him in his time and not without test and trial. Daniel needs only pray and trust. [00:15:00] And I think it may go without saying that in our politicized time and national and sometimes even church environment, we can learn something from that of remembering that God is still in control and placing things in His hands, prayerfully trusting that He will guide no matter the outcome.

For us, we put our hope in the name that is above all names. There is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we may be saved. That’s Acts 4. 12. And when we have been loved and saved in this way, there’s no room for jealousy, there’s no room for being less than charitable and not putting the best construction on things.

When we do these things, and we will do them, they’re so easy, but we’re called to return once again to Jesus, the name above all names, who has given us a good reputation and a good name before our Father in heaven. And I’ve learned in my time of ministry, it’s 15 years since I graduated from here and have been.

In ministry that as a forgiven child of [00:16:00] God, the most effective way to root jealousy out of my heart is by praising and celebrating folks that I would normally feel jealous of. When that twinge of jealousy starts to ping my heart, I say to that other mission leader, nice work on all those missionary recruits that you’ve gotten and sent to the field.

And you might say, well, do you really feel that? Isn’t that being dishonest to yourself? And, well, no, because it is nice work. It is a win. Anytime missionary recruits are trained and sent around the world to proclaim the gospel, that is good work, and he should keep doing it. And it is right for me to say that, because it really is a win.

Even if it’s not my mission organization, to all the folks I work with who have all the great ideas that I wish I had. Good idea. You know why? Because it is. And when I make my mouth say those things, I, over time, I train my heart to recognize that God is the giver of all good things, and to praise those things, and to praise Him, He is to be celebrated in these things.

Even my [00:17:00] brother in law, who has great hair and seems to have more money than I do all the time, yeah, I’m even celebrating him these days. And you know what? In the summer of 2007, Tim and Justine won the Dayton Daily News Best Yard Award for Our Town again, back to back, which had never been done. Except this time.

I’m the one that nominated them, because they are was fabulous. And you know what else? Some trustees from the church came to talk to me and ask if I wanted those trees taken down because they look like they could be a problem. And a landscaper who was a member of the church donated his time and talents to make our house look really good.

But really, it’s not about any of those things. It’s about the fact that we have been given a good name by our Lord Jesus, who found it so important. To protect our reputation and to give us a good name that we be reconciled to God forever and to our neighbors that he gave his life to that end. And he loves them so much too and he wants to have their reputation protected and a good [00:18:00] name that he calls us to protect it.

To speak well of them. Yes, even that person that requires extra grace in your family, in your class, in your church or your seminary community. To interpret all things in the best possible light. May he give us strength both to will and to do that that his good name Would be glorified by us and all the earth in Jesus name Amen, and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.


Thank you for listening to the essentially translatable podcast brought to you by Lutheran Bible translators You can find past episodes of the podcast at lbt.org/podcast Or subscribe on Audible, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Follow Lutheran Bible Translators social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Or go to lbt. org to find out how you can get involved in the Bible Translation Movement and put God’s Word in their hands. The [00:19:00] Essentially Translatable Podcast is edited and produced by Audrey Seider. Artwork designed by Sarah Rudowske. Music written and performed by Rob Veith. I’m Rich Rudowske, so long for now.


  • Rev. Rich Rudowske delivers sermon on combatting jealousy.
  • The sermon draws from Daniel 6 and the Eighth Commandment.
  • We can follow the example of Jesus by honoring the reputation of others.

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