The Family Name
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold. Proverbs 22:1
In every age and in every culture, a person’s name has been important. Whether names signify characteristics of the person or the family or if they have been passed down from one generation to another, the mention of the name can stir praise or shame.
For those of us who follow Christ, our names carry double meaning. As our character is tested and shaped and we prove to be trustworthy, the mention of our names will bring smiles to people’s faces. But as believers, our reputation doesn’t stop with “Jones” or “Smith” or Kosnowski”. We are children of the king, with the royal heritage and noble lineage. The God of the universe calls us His own. He created us, and He bought us back from slavery to sin.
Nothing – absolutely nothing- is more important than our names as God’s beloved children. Riches will end, fame will fade, and possessions will rust and rot, but the “loving favor” of God will last for eternity
What names do we call ourselves, especially when we’ve done something we are not proud of? Those angry declarations me express our emotions at the moment, but they aren’t the truth about who we are in the eyes of God – and that’s the most important truth of all.
“ Paint the picture of your life with godly decisions and you will never be ashamed to attach your signature to the portrait you create”.
In the Old Testament names given were of great significance. For example Abram became Abraham
“No longer shall your name be Abram (exalted father), But your name shall be Abraham (father of a multitude); For I will make you the father of many nations.
Sarai became Sarah.
Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai (my princess), but her name will be Sarah ( Princess).
Later we read that Jacob was changed to Israel and was that ever a change.
So He asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.”
Jacob means deceiver and you can read that in his story. He tricked his brother Esau out of the birthright. He deceived his father and cheated his uncle. But when he had the encounter with God and was changed, his name changed to Israel which means Prince with God.
In the New Testament Jesus called Simon whose name means reed, one who bends which ever way the wind blows. One day Jesus renamed him Peter which means rock. As you read his story you find several occasions when Peter was the rock and other times when he reverted to Simon. Jesus used whichever name was appropriate for the occasion.
Then Jesus answered him, “Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, favored by God] are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood (mortal man) did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades (death) will not overpower it [by preventing the resurrection of the Christ].
When Jesus met him on the seashore after the resurrection, He used the old name for no doubt at that moment Peter wasn’t visible but Simon sure was.
So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these [others do—with total commitment and devotion]?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
Now let’s apply this principle to us. Before we came to know Christ there were no doubt several names that would have fit us. The principle name was sinner and whatever category of sinner that fit. Some of us were liars, thieves, cheats, immoral people and so forth. But when we came to Christ, He did a transformation in us like He did in Abram, Sarai, Jacob and Simon. Oh we may still have the same name our parents gave us but sinner is not one of those names. Our identity has changed and now we are the children of God.
See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory].
1 John 3:1-2
Our identity is important. We must not forget that we have been adopted into the family of God and given His name- Christian which means “little Christs.” When this becomes our identity it changes our perspective of life. We live a different way to a different standard for as an adopted child we begin to take on the character of our adoptive Father.
So today if you have received Christ you are a fully adopted child of God.
The story is told that Napoleon was reviewing the troops. As he stood before a young soldier, he inquired his name. The young man replied, “My name is Napoleon.” To which Napoleon replied, “Live up to your name.”
That’s our call- the call to live up to our new name-Christian.
Dr. John Thompson