What's In a Name?

Happy Monday, friends! Today I wanted to share with you a taste of my new devotional, CHILD OF GOD: A Seven-Day Exploration of Who You Really Are. I hope it gets your week off to a great start! If you'd like to read the other seven days, join my mailing list and after you open the welcome email and confirm, you'll receive your own copy in your inbox! I wish you all a wonderful week!

Day 1

A New Name


“…And you will be given a new name

    by the Lord’s own mouth.”


—Isaiah 62:2b




Invitation & Silence

Quiet your mind, and invite the Holy Spirit to be with you and speak to your heart. 


Scripture Reading

Genesis 17:1-8, 15-16

Genesis 35:9-12

Matthew 16:13-19


Devotional Reading

I’ve heard it said, “You don’t know how many people you hate until you try to name your child.” I’m not going to lie to you, my spouse and I did encounter a few names that were absolutely out of the question for our kids, simply because of people we had known who went by those names. Generally people avoid names of ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, childhood “friends” that were more like enemies, or just really, really annoying people. Our aversion to these names usually has nothing to do with the literal translation or meaning of these names, but the meaning and association derived from the people we knew who went by those names.


In ancient near eastern culture, names carried weight. You could learn something about a person just by learning their name. A name marked someone, and was a reflection and/or a prediction of some significant aspect in their life. A person’s name was tied to their identity. So when you see people in the Bible being renamed, that’s significant. When they’re being renamed by God, we should sit up and take notice, and recognize that their new name has something to do with what God is going to do in and through their life. 


All of us who are now in Christ have essentially been renamed by God. Scripture gives us plenty of metaphors for what we were, contrasted with what we now are: no longer orphans, now adopted, no longer slaves, but sons & daughters, no longer enemies of God but now friends of God, no longer lost but now found in our true home, and the list could go on and on. 


Though literal names don’t tend to carry the same weight in our society as they did biblically, we do carry the weight of how we’ve been identified by others, sometimes without even recognizing it. Throughout our lives, people can mark us with their words, and labels can develop into identities that we believe about ourselves. Maybe authority figures, family members, co-workers, or friends have said things about us or treated us in ways that have pigeon-holed us into an identity that God never intended us to carry. Maybe you were labeled as dramatic, or absent-minded, or bull-headed, or stupid, or annoying. Even positive labels can affect us in negative ways, causing us to focus on or find our identities in things other than God. Maybe you were labeled the pretty one, or the smart one, or the popular one, or the talented one, and your identity has become wrapped up in that one aspect of your life. 


“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.”


—Galatians 3:26-29


All the roles we play in life, even the good ones (student, parent, sibling, spouse, boss, leader, employee), must be secondary to our primary identity: CHILD OF GOD. Before we are anything else, we are simply a son or daughter of our loving heavenly father. When we live out of any other identity than the one our heavenly father gives us, we are not living as our true selves, and we will never be at peace. 


Dig Deeper

How have people in your life identified you over the years? How has this affected the way you think, believe, and live?


Have you allowed any of the roles you play in life to become your identity? Have you begun to find your worth or value in any of those things? 


If you discover you’ve found your identity in anything other than CHILD OF GOD, repent and ask God’s forgiveness. Offer your life again to God, asking him to be the one in whom you find your identity.


Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about who you truly are, about how God sees you, and the name that GOD has given you.