What’s in a Name?

September 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

When we are born our parents, usually with much thought and consideration, choose the perfect name they believe suitable for their offspring. There are websites and books devoted to instructing the origins and meanings of names.  Perhaps you love your name, or perhaps you despise it.  I have a relative with an unspoken rule to never say his first name. I think he was teased about it as a child. But it was a name given to him by loving parents no less.

Before the foundation of the earth God knew your name.  He knew when you would be born, to whom, where, and each day of your life. 

13 For you created my inmost being;
       you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
       your works are wonderful,
       I know that full well.

 15 My frame was not hidden from you
       when I was made in the secret place.
       When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
       All the days ordained for me
       were written in your book
       before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139: 13-16

Perhaps you are familiar with the well-known Bible account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: three Israelite men who were captured during the time of Daniel and taken to live in Babylon and enter into the king’s service. (see Daniel 1)  These men are best known for refusing to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idol and being delivered alive and unharmed from a fiery furnace.  (Daniel 3) Maybe a lesser known fact is that the names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were actually pagan names given to these men upon their involuntary enrollment in the Babylonian king’s service.  (Daniel 1:7) Their original Hebrew names were: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.   These Israelite men were far from home in a land that was the antithesis to all that they believed and all that they held as truth.  On top of that, they were now being called by pagan names!  What must it have felt like to be stripped of all they knew and believed on the external in addition to losing their name?  I would like to suggest this name change has something to teach us of eternal significance. 

     Those who profess Jesus as Lord and Savior are citizens of Christ’s kingdom and not of this world.  Like Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, we are far from home in a pagan land.  Our loyalties and our home are in heaven with Christ.  Just as these men were given pagan names to reflect the pagan country they were besieged to; this world wants to make your name one that reflects its character, values, and state of depravity.  The world and the prince of this world, the devil, want to associate your name with their agendas and their gods.  Conversely, Jesus wants you to be an overcomer and for you to live in such a way as to acquire a good name.  One that reflects a life reverently lived for Him.

 1 A good name is better than fine perfume,
       and the day of death better than the day of birth.

Ecclesiastes 7:1

3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
       bind them around your neck,
       write them on the tablet of your heart.

 4 Then you will win favor and a good name
       in the sight of God and man.

 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
       and lean not on your own understanding;

Proverbs 3:3-5

God has a name that He will give to us in heaven written on a white stone known only to him who receives it. Consider:

17He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

– Revelation 2:17

To him who overcomes Christ will give a new name!  What a blessed promise.  What do we long for that name to be?  Maybe faithful, true, overcomer, disciple, peacemaker, humility.  These are some to consider.  Jesus, the maker of heaven and earth, will undoubtedly have more creative names than the English ones listed here, but isn’t it sobering to consider what name our life will be marked by in eternity? 

Friend, if this world has given you a “name” that reflects its standards and gods, then remember whose you are.  Christ knows your true name. He longs for you to fight the good fight of faith and to live for His Name.  He has a name ready to write on a white stone and impart to those who are overcomers.  Won’t you live to be an overcomer?

35So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For in just a very little while,
   “He who is coming will come and will not delay.
    38But my righteous one[a] will live by faith.
   And if he shrinks back,
      I will not be pleased with him.”[b] 39But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

Hebrews 10:35-39

Raise the Risk:

  1. Determine the origin and meaning of your name and see how it compares to what God says of you in His word and in light of your past and present experiences.  Spend some moments in reflection and determine what present practices need to be changed in order to acquire a good and godly name among God and man.
  2. Learn a new name of God and praise Him with it.  Please post your findings!
  3. Praise The Name that is above every name and share the truth of His word with someone this week.
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