Monday, May 9, 2011


“Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those 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.“ Philippians 2: 9-11

In Biblical times, someone’s name signified the essence of who that person was. This is why so many of those Biblical names seem whacked by modern sensibilities. Could you imagine having little Habbakkuk or Peleg running around underfoot? Perhaps today we see things a little different with names like Jayden and Madison making the top ten baby names list for 2010. I mean, what does “Madison” say about your essence? More popular than popular names has been the practice of using Biblical or Saints’ names to signify not the essence of the child, but a strong filial connection on the part of the parents to the person who originally bore that name.

Names are powerful, even if they don’t signify our essence anymore. They do signify who we are in some respect and they differentiate one person from another. And from an early age we identify with our name and it means something to us. It is important to us that other people take the time to learn our name and remember it, as opposed to just calling out “hey you” every time they see us.

Names are powerful to God as well. That is why they used to signify one’s essence. God calls us by name. His followers’ names are written in the Book of Life. And while He has many different titles, God also has a name: I AM. And there is such power in the name of God that at the end of time, even those who did not follow Jesus, or who rejected Him, or who denied His existence will still bend their knees and proclaim that He is Lord. The name of Jesus can be used to cure people and to cast away demons. Many Saints have died rather than defame the name of Christ. The Old Testament people had such awe, respect and holy fear for the name of God that they would not utter it—even in prayer!

And yet so often we reduce the holy, powerful name of God to an exclamation, curse word or casual statement. We say His name not in prayer or worship with tender love and reverence, but in apathy, anger, excitement, fear or indifference. For many of us, it has simply become a bad habit formed out of ignorance or laziness. But for God His name is so important that the First Commandment given to us is to not use it in vain. What does this mean? It means to use the name of God devoid of its power, devoid of the honor and dignity it deserves; to use it in mockery of all it stands for and accomplishes. To waste the power and grace it should bring to our lives through carelessness or sin, in the end turning the power of the name against us to our own condemnation. Let us strive instead to use the name of God in prayer, with great affection and with a realization of the power we unleash simply by uttering it.

Dear Jesus, let me only use Your name with love on my lips and in my heart. Let me praise Your name and bless others with Your name. May the power of Your name transform my life and the lives of all I met today. Amen.

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