What’s in a Name?

Who are you? Our likely response to that is to state our name, “Robert Lee Hicks Jr., Sir and you?” Our name, the one our earthly fathers have given us, can tell a lot about us. It declares our family and its heritage, which may or may not have a special meaning to the person to whom we are responding, but nonetheless does stand for something. In some countries one’s name goes as far as to define where one is from, right down to the town or village. Our name is our identification.

The names our earthly fathers give us are “who we are.” Some would say that our name can be a benefit or detriment based on the reputation or stature of our forefathers; yet others would argue that we make a name for ourselves, i.e. our character defines our name. But that is assuming that the name is based on “who we are.” What is in a name if it is based on “WHOSE we are”, i.e. to whom we belong? To a Christian, “whose we are” should very well define “who we are.”

Since the fall of the human race, man has been trying to make a name for himself, trying to define for himself and others just who on earth he is. Unfortunately, one of the impediments to mankind that “crept in” during the fall of Adam was this little thing we call pride. In our vain attempt to make a name for ourselves, we seldom incorporate “whose we are.” We allow pride to overcome our willingness to be humble to our Creator. Lucifer himself can attest to what a bad idea it is to try to become “like God” through greed and pride (Isaiah 14:12).

One of the first accounts of this struggle is found in Genesis, in the story of the Tower of Babel. “Come let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens so that we may make a name for ourselves…” (Genesis 11:4). The result was at best devastating. Man in his self-centeredness, tried to build a great civilization, which to his own eyes looked like an excellent idea at the time. By not consulting God, they challenged God to prove Himself. Which He did by confusing the very thing they depended on for unity: a common language.

Sadly enough, man did not stop there. Throughout history, mankind has made incredible feats to further the advance of civilization in many ways. Time and time again, however, man has fallen to his pride, demanding more than God will allow. “God Himself could not sink this ship!” This famous quote describes the “unsinkable Titanic” that to this day lies at the very bottom of the Atlantic, a cemetery to the prideful and the innocent. It is not that man’s accomplishments are inherently evil; it is that man’s motives generally are.

Simply pick up any book of the history of mankind — the Bible being an excellent source — to find numerous accounts of where God Himself had to put His creation back into check. Fortunately for us, there are historical figures that remind us that pride can be subdued. There are stories of men and women who made names for themselves based on “whose they are,” their lives devoted to making themselves, not statues made for corruption, but mirrors made to reflect their very purpose, to serve the Lord Our God. The names of Noah, David, Ruth, Paul, to the present day Billy Graham and countless others, are synonymous with the God they serve, rather than based on the world’s standards.

Man’s history should in no way be a discouragement to us, but an opportunity to learn from our mistakes. God wants us to accomplish great things, but not before his timing, lest we forget who is God and who is man.

Not only are we as humans made in the likeness of God and live by His breath alone (Genesis 2:7), but those of us who have been sanctified by the gift of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ His Son have been given a second chance and the power to wage war against pride. We have been given a name for ourselves, a name that doesn’t need to be proven. We are Christians, imitators of Christ. We have a name that is based on the Name above all Names. What more do we need? Our challenge and purpose is to seek to fulfill God’s will, to accomplish all in the name of Christ.

I’ve heard that the number one thing that restrains advance is contentment. This is so true in the Christian’s case. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We have been given a new job title. It is time to leave the comfort of the old job and accept the challenge of the new position, leave the old routine and take hold of the promise that has been laid before us. How many of us are still living like sons of Adam instead of children of the King of Kings? Are you living up to your new name? Are you known by “whose you are”?

How much longer will it take,
to realize what we do,
we do for His sake.
How much more should we learn,
from vain attempts,
that sink and burn.
For this earth we’ve been given,
not for self,
but righteous living.
this land to trod,
and seas to cross,
in the name of our God.

– Lee Hicks