Sunday, April 1, 2007

What is in a Name?

Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of - for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.
Greek philosopher in Athens (469 BC - 399 BC)

"What's in a name? That which we call a roseBy any other word would smell as sweet."
Juliet -from the Play Romeo and Juliet

"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold."
Proverbs 22:1 NIV

There is so much in a name. Names tell us a lot about people. What family they are a part of, what there family heritage is, what part of the country/world they were born in and more.

I've always been fascinated with names. Two things that I love are when a couple marries and the women adopts her husbands' name and I love nicknames. I love the name change that happens at marriage because of all that it communicates. I think this only further communicates the picture of "two becoming one" that Scripture speaks of. I have grown to love nicknames partially because they help me remember people names, which is something I try hard to do, but also because nicknames often will communicate a closeness in two people's relationship. These nicknames are often developed through time that we spend with that friend. You would not call a total stranger by a nickname that had never heard before. He would likely address them with more caution until you knew that person better. (of course this rule doesn't apply if the person is famous or only goes by one name - e.g. -Shaq, Tmac, Madonna, Prince, etc. All of these people go by first name or nickname and the whole world knows them this way.)

Scripture is also full of situations where a baby is given a name that has great meaning (Moses, Jesus, Jacob and Esau, etc.) Or like Paul and Peter there names are changed after they begin to follow Jesus. Names are full of life, meaning, and significance.

A name that is good is the most valuable treasure a person can have. More valuable than any wealth or money that can be attained in life. When we were choosing names for our children it was a big ordeal because we wanted to pick a name we thought fit perfectly.

Thinking about names leads me to also think about God's name. Throughout Scripture God is referred to in a number of different ways. Savior, Rock, Redeemer, Ancient of Days, Creator, Maker, Defender, Horn of our Salvation, Refuge, Fotress, Strong Tower, Lord, and Holy One just to name a few.

Just like names we have for one another or people who are famous much can also be learned about God when we look at His names. Various things can be known and understood about God's character and nature based on how one might refer to Him. When we encounter different situations in life sometimes we need something more than the name God. Maybe something else is more appropriate. Ultimately, I think that knowing God means knowing His names. Do you know Him well enough to call him by name?

Praise be to God our Father-whose name is full of height and depth and love and significance. Whose name never changes. Praise be to Your Name.
What name of God do you best identify with?

Do you have a hard time referring to Him in certain ways?

Do you think it helps us understand more about Him by knowing a particular name?


Larissa Smith said...

Good thoughts, Doug. Definitely worth chewing on.

1. I typically use Lord or Father as my names for God. I find that I need the reminder of both sides, that He is the master of all, but also a loving Father.

2. I typically avoid using God as I address Him in prayer and other times, simply because that makes Him feel too large and far away for me. When I think of Him as God, He doesn't feel as personal and close and loving.

3. I think different names of God are very useful for helping us understand different sides of Him. It's like someone having different nicknames from different people - you get a glimpse of who they are in various relationships, even though they are the same person. Reminders that God is timeless (I AM), comforting, loving, just, master, father, etc. makes us more able to come to Him than if He is just some sort of cosmic judge and ruler.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you doug, but as I was reading, I thought about mismatched names(such as mine(Andrew: brave and strong)) and others of such. Mordecai, cool as it sounds (plus he's in the BIBLE (Esther) as the GOOD GUY), makes people think of dark evil pictures because a couple of fantasy novels list that name as the top bad guy or his right hand man. It almost proves that the writen word is more powerful that tv. It would be if the internet wasn't supporting that pigment box.

aaaaaaannny way, you can't really name all that God is because he is all but sinfull and evil. This is the reason many just say that "HE is". When we think of names for him, we usually think of nice or amazing things. Yet we also must think of his awesomeness that we never can amagin and say we have a sain mind to a non-Godknowing person and maintain their company for ten minutes. It is these things that save us, and yet, we can not fully describe them in any "nickname" of God.

Andrew W/E
a.k.a.: Brother Sharp