Posted in Christianity, Thoughts

What’s in a Name?

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
Loving favor rather than silver and gold.
– Proverbs 22:1

A good name is a nice thing to have. A good name is respected. A good name does things. It pulls strings, opens doors.

For example, when one of my classes started today, it was rather noisy in the room outside our classroom. The one other student who was there at the time stuck his head out the door and said that we were having class. The people outside joked with him about it, saying it was only him and the teacher. He said, “And Zella.” One of them then yelled, “Sorry, Zella!” and it got a bit quieter for awhile. (Well, they used my real name, so you can insert that if you know it, but the point still stands.)

I laughed at the time, but it got me thinking. The people at my school who know who I am know that I am pretty scholarly and not given to much fooling around, especially during class. They know that I really wouldn’t appreciate them being noisy while I was trying to learn. My name was enough to change their behavior, at least for a couple minutes.

Now, if this had happened the first few weeks I was here, my name wouldn’t have meant anything to anybody. I would have been just another student who didn’t have any accomplishments to be respected. In other words, a good name has to be earned.

You know who else has a good name? Jesus:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
– Philippians 2:5-11

He has the greatest name, in fact! And you know what? He earned it. He came to earth and died to earn the respect that ought to go with his name. That’s hard work right there.

His name does things, too. It pulls strings. Jesus told his disciples in John 16:23, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.”

It bothers me when people play with my name, associating it with things I’d rather not be associated with. That doesn’t happen often, but people aren’t always thoughtful, so it’s bound to occur once in awhile.

If that’s how I feel about my name, how does Jesus feel when people play with his name? When they use it to justify acts he would disapprove of? When they use it in vain? He died for that name. It is powerful enough that every knee should bow when it is spoken, yet people toss it around with alarming frequency. We need to be more thoughtful when invoking a name so painstakingly and rightly earned.


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