What’s In a Name

What’s In a Name

I was watching the biography channel early this morning when a program featured the life story of Saddam Hussein. It was interesting to learn the meaning of the name Saddam. The word means “the one who confronts.” The commentator observed how Saddam has lived up to his name throughout his lifetime.

Hussein’s mother tried to kill him while he was still in her womb by slamming her stomach against the wall. She even tried to end her own life so that he would be destroyed. She saw her unborn baby as an unwanted intruder into her life.

Throughout history, a person’s name has had significance and is often a predictor of their behavior. Jacob’s name meant “one who deceives” and he certainly lived up to that name until he wrestled with “the angel of the Lord” and literally came to brokenness. At that point, his name was changed to “Israel,” meaning “a prince with God.”

When Christ entered the world, it was said that “His name shall be called Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.” His given name – Jesus. It was important to God.

When Jesus announced the ministry which would be entrusted to Peter, he changed his name right on the spot. “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona,” Jesus said. “I also say to you that you are Peter . . .” (Matthew 16:17-18)

What was the name placed on you early in life? I don’t mean your given name at birth. I’m referring to the name you assumed through the life-messages you received from your family, your peers, those in authority over you. The name may have been spoken or unspoken, but you knew it was a reference to you.

Some people bear the name “Unwanted” or “Unloveable.” Others secretly carry a name associated with shame. Some have come to believe deep down that their name is Ugly or Unimportant. One man I knew even called his wife “Chunky,” – a reference to her weight. He seemed to think it was cute, but I thought it was cruel and wondered how his wife had come to let him get away with such behavior.

Think about the formative years of your life. Based on the life messages you received by how others related to you, what was your unspoken name?

The gospel of grace brings good news about our name. You may not be who you have been taught you are. God calls you by His own pet names for you – names like “Apple Of My Eye, Beloved, My child, My Friend, My Bride.” Search the Bible and you will never find God calling you by a negative name, not even once.

He adores you. With that truth in mind, why not pause right now and pray. Ask the Lord this question, “What pet name will you call me today?” Then see what comes into your mind. You may be thrilled as the Holy Spirit reveals to you how much you are loved and how special you are to God.

He has a special name for you. Own it and then live up to it.

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