“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Imagine a world where roses were called skunks and skunks, roses. Can you?
Yeah, neither can I.
While I understand the point William Shakespeare was making in this oft-quoted line from “Romeo and Juliet”, a rose is synonymous for its beauty and sweet smell that we can’t imagine it being called anything else – especially something it’s exact opposite. So, while I shouldn’t contradict our dear Shakespeare, it’s obvious names are important. Incredibly so.
Today, children are given names chosen by their parents because they like the name, or to honor a dear friend or relative. It wasn’t always this way, however. Throughout Scripture, you see children so named because the meaning of their name represented something important to their parents. Sometimes, it meant a blessing. Sometimes, a curse.
Think of the prophet Samuel. His mother, Hannah, desperately cried out to the Lord to give her a son. God answered her prayer, and the name Samuel means “God has heard.”
Or how about Jabez? His mother was in such pain during his birth, that she named him Jabez, meaning “He will cause pain.” He lived with this curse until he cried out to the Lord and asked God to “keep him from evil and from causing pain.”(1 Chronicles 4:10)
Then there were those who had their name changed – either by themselves or others.
Like Naomi, whose name means “Pleasant” or “Sweet.” Through this, we receive a glimpse into Naomi’s character and temperament. But when life dealt her one too many hard blows, she said “do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Lord has dealt very bitterly with me.” (Ruth 1:20) Because of her circumstances she changed her name to one that meant “bitter.”
There are countless others, like Daniel who was given the pagan name Belteshazzar by the Babylonians in an attempt to change his identity from “God is my judge” to “Bel protects his life.” And think of Abraham, Sarah, Jacob… the list could go on and on.
In each of these stories, their name was not merely what they were called— it was their very identity, spirit, character, and legacy. It meant much more to them than what our names mean to us today.
Even so, we are given names that shape who we are, or who we become. Names that can be woven into the very fabric of our identity and worth.
Names like worthless, priceless, failure, smart, stupid, daughter, outcast.
At times these identities are forced upon us by people, but occasionally we can even place them upon ourselves.
No matter whether they come from the mouths of people around us, or from deep inside our hearts, there are really only two voices attempting to label us.
The first is the voice of our enemy. It’s his goal to degrade our blood-bought identity as daughters of the King. He knows if he can steal our identity, he can steal our hearts. If he can convince us we’re not beautiful, priceless daughters, loved beyond measure, then he can make us doubt God’s love. Sweet sisters, do not let the enemy invade your heart and defame your worth. He will taunt and mock. He will roar, whisper or do anything to make you listen to him. Do not listen to his lies. Combat them with truth. He may try to make you feel less than, but you are truly more than enough.
The second voice, and the one that should be the loudest, is that of our Heavenly Father. Everything the enemy says is exactly the opposite of what God says, just as the name Naomi is the exact opposite of Mara. When we accept Christ as our Savior, He gives us a new name. That name is chosen, redeemed, and loved. It’s not up for grabs. It’s not under dispute. It’s hundred percent sure, and right, and ours. Why don’t we claim it? Why do we live each day under attack, when our identity was already bought by the blood of our Savior?
The enemy came to steal, kill, and destroy.
God came to heal, restore, and redeem. He came so you could be His, and died so we would have a new name as His children.
Let’s go back to Daniel. When taken away to Babylon, the Babylonians gave him a new name. But Daniel didn’t accept it. All throughout the book of Daniel, he was always referred to as… Daniel. Even when brought before the rulers of the land, he wasn’t called Belteshazzar, but “Daniel whose name was also Belteshazzar.” He clung to his Hebrew name, because it represented much more than just a name. He didn’t let anyone steal or change it, no matter how hard they tried. No, he was Daniel, and God truly was his judge.
Let it be this way for us. No matter how hard the world may try to change our name – our identity, we need to cling to what God calls us.
No one is authorized to steal the identity of the King’s daughter. No one.