Thursday, February 10, 2011


When I hear a familiar name, there is an emotional and a cognitive response. If the person is not a friend, or God forbid, an enemy, all sorts of memories of past experiences and emotions flood my mind. Anger, fear, sadness, regret, etc. show my lack of forgiveness, as well as making me realize I need to reconcile with the person if possible. Their names sort of open a "negative file." If the person has been a blessing in my life, the opposite emotions and thoughts arise. Often there is even a smile that comes when thinking of family and friends. Their "files" are filled with good memories.

A person's name carries with it their reputation. There is an old saying that says "a man is only as good as his word." In other words, his name is associated with his integrity. We all know people who make promises and then, for some strange reason, repeatedly fail to keep them. Perhaps that is why James warned against making promises, because no one knows what their future holds: "For that ye [ought] to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that." (Jam. 4:15). Failure to fulfill promises is one sure way of provoking one's children (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21).

When the disciples of John came to Jesus asking if He was the promised Messiah, He told them to tell John what they saw Him do (Matt. 11:2-7). Many false Messiahs have come, and many more will in the future; the way one can tell the Genuine from the false is by their works (Matt. 7:16, 20). God told us that He values His Word above His name, because when it comes right down to it, His name is only as good as His Word (Ps. 138:2). It is impossible to separate one's name from one's works.

Israel was instructed to behave in such a way as to do no harm to the name of God. There are several verses in the Old Testament that speak of actions done for "His name's sake" (2 Chron. 6:32; Ps. 23:3; Isa. 48:11; etc.). The Jews and the Church are told to act in such a way that the Father's name is glorified (Matt. 5:16). There are also verses in the New Testament that have to do with living in such a way as to bring honor to the name of Christ; most of them have to do with how we are to react to persecution because we believe in Christ (Matt. 24:9; Lk. 21:12; Jn. 15:21; Acts 9:16; etc.).

There is power in the name of Jesus (Acts 3:16). There is authority in His name (Acts 9:27). There is healing in His name (Acts 3:6). Demons leave at the name of Jesus (Acts 16:18). Salvation is found only in His name (Acts 4:12). Most importantly, humility is produced to all who confess His name (Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10). What's in a name? The name identifies us, our reputation is tied to it, and if we are born-again Christians, our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life (Phil. 4:3; Rev. 13:8). Praise God!

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