I stopped in at the Doctor's Surgery this morning to run an errand for mum, and was greeted very pleasantly with "Good morning Francis, how are you?" Now, you'll all see that my Christian name isn't Francis - Francis is my surname, though this confusion has come about many times before. It's one of the outcomes of having a first name for a surname. Then of course I am known by most as Toni - a boy's name (though NOT boys spelling), and I can't tell you how many people on Twitter have thought I was a man!
I have many names, in fact...
A Christian name - -
A second name - -
A nickname - -
A married name - -
And two...yes TWO maiden names - - trust me on that because it's way too complicated to explain!
My initials read like an eye chart!!
And then there are those who see the spelling of JEANNE (pronounced like Genie in a bottle) and can't wrap their minds around that, so I have been referred to by names such as Janine, Dianne, and Leanne. It doesn't bother me - not anymore. I confess it used to, but it actually makes for a good conversation opener.
And in the end, the ONLY name that matters is the Name of God!
Edward Hindson, D.Phil. and Edward Dobson, Ed.D. write;
Jesus personifies the Living Word from God Himself. He is the Word made flesh, the Name above all names. For many the Name of Jesus brings extraordinary comfort and hope. But others use His Name to express anger, amazement or disgust; to them it is no more than a convenient expletive. The Name that is like no other stirs conflicting emotions in those who hear it, because Jesus is more than just a religious leader and teacher. He is more than simply a figure in history. He is more than merely a moral influence. Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
I am learning to think on the Lord's Name with more respect and honour than ever before, rather than using it as even a seemingly harmless exclamation. I read once that in Biblical days a person's name held a deep meaning and revealed so much about who they were. Names were chosen based on their meaning and what they would go on to say about the person it was bestowed upon. Many times in the Bible God changed a person's name according to a crucial change in their life; like Paul who was renamed from Saul after encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9).
Even today, choosing a name for a new baby is a big deal. My eldest son has the names of 3 Saints. My second son is named after his father. My daughter has an unusual second name that I fell in love with 7yrs before she was even born. The right name for my youngest son wasn't settled upon until he was half an hour old.
Now think of this, what if, instead of crying out the Lord's name when we kick our toe - rather than using a swear word - someone cried out the name of one of our children? "Oh John Smith, damn and blast, that hurt!"
I don't think I'd like that very much....would you?
Does God - when His Son's Name is blasphemed?
When it comes to the Names of God we need to be more aware of our use of them, and seek deeper understanding and respect for the Names of our God and Creator. Most people were raised knowing it's discourteous to use the Lord's Names as curse words, but the use of His Name as an exclamation of any sort is disrespectful, including those of joy. This came as an awakening for me. More reverence and honour needs to be given to the Name of God, at all times! It cannot be a case of respect and honour one day, and complacency and casualness the next. God is deserving of honour at all times. We don't want to be so caught up in being friendly with God that we overlook worshipping Him and bowing before Him in complete surrender and obedience to His will.
There is a young man I know who is certainly on fire for God - no doubt about that, but he continually refers to God as "The Big G", or "The Man Upstairs", and he speaks of Jesus as "The J-Man". I saw on Twitter recently someone referring to Jesus as "My Homie".
We need to be cautious, attuned to what's in a name, especially when that Name is that of our Saviour, our Creator, our King, our God. As Christians even more so, we need to be the examples in every area of our walk, including in our words and how we speak them.
In Jesus' Name - what power those three words hold. John 16:24, Acts 4:12, Romans 10:13, Colossians 3:17...just some of the passages declaring the reverence of the Name of Jesus. Philippians 2:9-11 says; Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the Name that is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Loving Father, Mighty King,
We praise Your Name! None will know the true majesty of Your Name until we stand before You in glory. Father, place a burden on our hearts to come more and more before You in praise and worship, honour and reverence...to come into Your throne room and bow before You as You deserve. You are our Loving Father, our Gentle and Tender King, but You are also our Creator, the Beginning and the End, and we worship You. In Jesus' Precious Name, amen.