Importance of the Name
Importance of the Name
As a child, I named every doll I played with, “Madeline.” I loved that name. I thought it was the prettiest name in the world! It may have been the Madeline books that my Mom read to me before bed that started my infatuation with this name. But, maybe not. According to my Mom, I loved the name “Madeline” because it was the name of my Father’s prettiest girlfriend, and I was trying to get under my Mom’s skin! She was teasing, I think 😊!
In 1990 when Jody and I learned that our next child would be a girl, it took me less than 3 seconds to decide what to name her. Her name would be, of course, Madeline!
Names have meaning.
God values names. Throughout the Bible, God carefully changed names based on the individual’s changing status. Abram to Abraham (Genesis 17:5), Jacob to Israel (Genesis 32:28) and in the New Testament, Simon to Peter (Matthew 16:18) are but a few. These name changes signified a new role the person was to play for the Kingdom of God. Abram became the Father of many nations, Jacob wrestled with God and survived and Simon was to be the rock on which Jesus would build his church. It was important to God to make sure each person had the right name. God wanted them to know who they were and to embrace their Gospel identity. He wants the same thing for us today. Names matter.
Last week while reading the Gospel of John with a group of my sisters, I noticed that Jesus also changed His mother’s name. (Using the Community Bible Reading app, we all read a chapter of the OT and NT each day and comment on the GROUP ME app how the Spirit is applying the passage to our lives. It is a beautiful way to have community and grow in our faith.) Though this name change is subtle, it is nonetheless meaningful for all women. The story takes place in John 2. Jesus is attending a wedding in Cana with his mom, Mary. The host runs out of wine and Mary looks to her son Jesus and basically says, “They have no wine; do something.” Jesus honors his mother’s request and turns water into wine, but not without also making his mom aware of the change in her status. Jesus said to her, “WOMAN, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” He didn’t call her mom, or even Mary. Instead, He went back to the name Adam gave Eve in the garden - “WOMAN (Genesis 2:23).” With this subtle change, Jesus let His mom know He was the Son of God and that she, like the rest of us women, must accept Him as such. He would be about His Father’s business, and she would have to believe on His name for her salvation. Mary’s identity changed that day – the same day Jesus began His public ministry. Jesus’ love for his mom did not change, but Mary’s role in the Kingdom of God did.
Names have meaning.
On my wedding day I took a new surname. I went from being an Angelette to a Creekmore. This name change signified a change in status for me and my new husband. My new surname told the world where my loyalty resided. My new surname told the world that I had left my parents and was now cleaving to my husband (Ephesians 5:31). To this day, it still describes the condition of my heart and proclaims the direction of my future … walking hand-in-hand with my husband, Jody. Now then, in the early years of our marriage and when someone called me, “Mrs. Creekmore,” I would turn around and look for my MIL. But not now. Today, I fully embrace my married name and the role I am to play in God’s kingdom as the wife of Jody Creekmore. I want my life to honor and support him as he humbly submits to God’s will and leads our family. My name, as do my actions of love and submission, confirm to him that we are on the same team.
Today, many young brides are marrying without taking their husband’s name. Other young brides hyphenate their name with their husband’s. Sometimes, the groom takes the bride’s name. Sometimes, the couple decides against either name and instead come up with a new name from letters in both their former names. If Jody and I had mingled our names, we could have come up with some doozies like, Angelmore, Creeklette, AngelCreek, and my personal favorite, Angreemork. But considering the climate of the 80’s and our deep Southern heritage, this would have been gravely frowned upon.
Surprisingly, this new name culture that truly started to gain momentum in the late 1990’s does not bother me. I prefer the traditional, but I’m okay with the name choice of a young couple so long as their lifestyle supports the fact that the two have become one flesh and so long as they pursue Jesus with their whole hearts. I feel as though this shift in the “name game” is a fad and that “this too shall pass.” If not, in 200 years genealogists will scratch their heads over nonsensical Family Trees. But I digress 😊.
Names have meaning.
I can accept this new cultural way of re-naming on the wedding day. On this topic I will bend. But, I draw a line with one name. The Word of God makes is very clear that the very name of the Lord is a strong tower (Proverbs 18:10). There are many verses that affirm this. In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus tells us that Our Heavenly Father’s name is “hallowed (Matthew 6:9).” Recently, my earthly Father asked me to do a word study on the word, “hallowed.” Being the good daughter, I did. “Hallowed” is a rich word that means, in an active sense, “sanctifying” or “to make holy.” “Hallowed” is used 29 times in Scripture. God’s name is hallowed because by it, by the name of the Lord, we are saved (Romans 10:13)! His name sanctifies me! His name redeems me! His name overwhelms me!
The name of the Lord is powerful. We must neither misuse nor abuse His name.
Creekmore is not hallowed. Your name is not hallowed either. They are just names. You can monkey with your name, it is no big deal, but let us agree that we must never misuse or abuse God’s name!
After God set His people free from captivity in Egypt, He gave them some commandments. One of these commandments is, “Do not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain (Exodus 20:7).” I remember learning this as an elementary age child in my Lutheran Sunday School. I also remember thinking that this meant “God does not abide a foul tongue.” Given that I have never enjoyed the use of foul language, nor have I ever been able to say curse words convincingly, I have believed myself good on this commandment. But as I have grown in my maturity and understanding of God’s nature, I have come to realize that not cursing is only the “tip of the ice berg” that God’s commandment prohibits. As with all things, God looks at the heart of the issue; not just the surface. To take His name in vain is to trivialize it and to make it common and to under appreciate its power. The name of the Lord is the power for salvation! It cannot be trivialized (John 1:12). This is the reason why He commanded His people to treat his name as holy. He did this for their good! God is our good Father; He also gave the commandments for our good!
And because names are import to God, He makes the name of Jesus to be above all names (Philippians 2:9). He who created all things and understands all things also understands the power of words. But most important, He understands the redeeming power of His own name. The name of the Lord and Heavenly Father, the name of His son Jesus and the name of the Holy Spirit are valuable; we must regard them as such. May our lives reflect this truth!
Names have meaning.
Sometimes we flippantly throw around the name of our Lord with exclamations like “OMG,” or statements of frustration like “For God’s sake,” or with bold proclamations of “With God as my witness.” We attempt to make His name common when we treat his name with such blatant lack of respect.
When I look at my own speech, I am saddened by the presence of some of these phrases, and I am convicted of my own lack of respect for the name of the Lord. Sometimes in frustration I use words I do not intend to use, but I know they are forgiven as soon as I confess them. Nevertheless, I need to break the habit. So might you.
SILLY SIDEBAR: I have come up with a new list of words and phrases that I am going to use instead of “gosh darn it” or “good God.” See what you think, and please leave any other good ones that you are adopting in the comment section below.
Snickerdoodle Holy Moly Hot buttered biscuits
Jiminy Crickets Shut the front door Son of a Nutcracker
Dagnabbit Leaping Lizards Fishsticks
I am also convicted of the way I can throw around God’s name to prove a point or win a debate. May I ever be careful not to overstate God’s position on cultural issues, or use His name as a bat to clobber another person. And when I feel God directing my steps, may I not overstate His prompting, but instead, and in obedience, humbly seek His will.
I am thankful that when Jesus bore my shame on the cross, my mouth, and yours, were on His list. Let’s hold each other accountable and give His name the honor it is due. Only when our hearts are truly changed will our mouths follow suit!
I’m most pleased that of all my names … Sue, wife, mother, daughter, and Sweet mama … I am called a child of God (Romans 8:14) and a daughter of the King (2 Corinthians 6:18). Thank you for reading, & stay washed in the Word!
My prayer is that we understand who we are in Christ and never take the Lords name for granted
or in vain, but instead give God all the glory and respect His hallowed name deserves.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalms 20:7).”