Ask any substitute teacher – names are powerful tools. Students act differently when they believe they are acting anonymously. Call one by name, and all of a sudden, the atmosphere changes.
And I beg to differ with Mr. Shakespeare’s statement “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet;”. While technically true, we all know that names can color our perceptions.
Names are powerful.
Parents recognize this when a baby is on the way. They search for just the right name. Sometimes they want the name to convey heritage, so they choose the name of an honored love one. Sometimes they research meanings of names and decide on one that describes the characteristic they hope to instill in their child. Other times, they choose a name because of its sound or beauty. Whatever the name, it goes with the child from birth to grave, and it becomes a symbol of who he is and how he is recognized.
Names go beyond those given at birth, however. Humans have a way of assigning names based on their perception of actions, character, or looks. So, we end up with titles like stupid, clumsy, fat, idiot, crazy, dull, and ugly. These names pass judgment, and they move from the surface to the soul to wound and scar. Sometimes these titles take prominence over the carefully chosen names of birth. Sometimes they become the way we think of ourselves, and we find ourselves calling ourselves by these names.
God understands the importance of names. Reading through the Bible is always an adventure as we attempt to pronounce some of the unfamiliar names, but those names carried meaning for their bearers. Adam – the man; Eve – living; Joshua – one who saves; Judah – praise; Sarah – princess; Abraham – multitude of nations; Peter – rock; Immanuel – God with us; These are just a few of the descriptive names God used for His people. Name is so important to God, that one of the Ten Commandments warns us against taking His name in vain (using it lightly or carelessly).
God’s understanding of the power of a name goes well beyond the name given at birth or rebirth, and He, too, uses names that describe. Throughout scripture He calls His children by names that reassure and empower them. These names help us stand against the onslaught of the world. They describe our relationship to Him, and they connect us to His heart. Here are a few of God’s names for His children:
- chosen – I Peter 2:9
- new creation – II Corinthians 5:17
- redeemed – Psalm 107:2
- holy – I Peter 1:15
- righteous – I Peter 3:12
- overcomer – I John 5:4
- friend – John 15:15
- His child – Galatians 3:26
- royalty – I Peter 2:9
- warrior or soldier – II Timothy 2:4
This world has a way of tearing down, and the enemy labels God’s children in ways that hurt and destroy. God, however, lifts His children up, calling us to see ourselves as He sees us. This amazes me.
You may be sitting in your natty robe with unbrushed teeth nursing a cup of coffee, but God sees His creation – His loved child. When we come to Him in trust, He makes us new, imparting His goodness and grace into our souls. So, see yourself as God sees you. Let the power of His names for you fortify your soul in a world of sarcasm and negativity. Then, in the words of songwriter Dennis Jernigan, “Be who you were called to be, chosen, new creation, trophy of His grace. Hallelujah!”
Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (ESV)
I Peter 2: 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
John 10: 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.