All of us have been given names by our parents. As babies we were not aware of the name or the thought or agony which some of our parents went through to give us our names. Some of us were named after relatives, usually a parent or grandparent, while others of us received names taken from Scripture, or possibly some received names following an alphabetical order. But whatever the case, we have a name that we will live with the rest of our lives.
As we grew older, we became more and more conscious of our name because it was our name. We call this self-consciousness. Our name became more than just a handle because associated with that name was how we thought of ourselves and how we wanted to be viewed by others. We want our name to designate us as a particular type of person and thereby set us apart from others. To many of us our name is so important that we take offense when we are spoken of slanderously. When something happens which could blacken our name we immediately take steps to correct it.
Now the desire for a good name is a commendable one, but one wonders if the motive is always a proper one. If our concern is only what others will say or are saying about us, we are being purely selfish and self-centered. But if on the other hand our concern is that as God’s children we want to properly bear His name, then we have a proper concern about our name.
There is something about a good name which is extremely important to those who bear the name of Christ. God tells us in Proverbs 22: l “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.” While many people are concerned about their names, only the child of God is concerned for the proper reason.
Why is it so important that we have a good name? Because our name is in separately connected to the name of Christ. As His witnesses what we do and say very really reflects on the name of Christ. And what a name He has! “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). Furthermore, we have been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus (I Corinthians 6:14) so that through His name we have life (John 20:30). Through His work of redemption He has given us a new name which is written in the Lamb’s book of life. The Heidelberg Catechism asks this question “Why art thou called a Christian?” And answers “Because I am a member of Christ by faith, and thus am partaker of his anointing; that so I may confess his name, and present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to him; and also that with a free and good conscience I may fight against sin and Satan in this life: and afterwards reign with him eternally, over all creatures” (Q. and A. 32). What more can be said? The meaning of this in connection with our desire for a good name is that we must in all our life reflect the life that we have in Christ. We must do all in the name of Christ so that His name will be praised. We must testify by the whole of our conduct our gratitude to God for His blessings. When we bear the name of Christ in this manner then without a doubt we will have a good name.
This implies, of course, that when we by our works and deeds dishonor our name that we dishonor the name of Christ. This is why sin is so deadly serious. It is against the majesty of the Most High God. We are want many times to be selfishly embarrassed or even upset that our sin was found out. We may even go so far as try to excuse our sin or blame it on others. But the fact remains that Christ’s name is dishonored. The only thing for a Christian to do is what David did when his sin of adultery and murder was pointed out to him by Nathan. “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David. The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die” (I1 Samuel 12: 13). Yet in spite of our sorrow and God’s accompanying forgiveness; we, as David, by our sin give the enemies of God an occasion to blaspheme God’s name. “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die” (I1 Samuel 12: 14).
In closing, let us remember that a good name is not something we can fulfill in our own strength. We must go to God the only source of all our strength. Let us pray that He will preserve His name in us and that He will keep us from those sins of youth which so often grieve the Holy Spirit. And if we through weakness fall into sin let us not despair of His mercy nor continue in sin. Also let us use His Word as our guide. We must study it and know it. We must be able to say “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.” Particularly let us heed His Word as it comes to us in Ephesians 5:15-20, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”