What’s in a name? When the 1960s ended, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district reverted to high rent, and many hippies moved down the coast to Santa Cruz. They had children and got married, too, though in no particular sequence. But they didn’t name their children Melissa or Brett. People in the mountains around Santa Cruz grew accustomed to their children playing Frisbee with little Time Warp or Spring Fever. And eventually kids named Moonbeam, Earth, Love and Precious Promise all ended up in public school. That’s when the kindergarten teachers first met Fruit Stand. Every fall, according to tradition, parents bravely apply name tags to their children, kiss them good-bye and send them off to school on the bus. So it was for Fruit Stand. The teachers thought the boy’s name was odd, but they tried to make the best of it.
“Would you like to play with the blocks, Fruit Stand?” they offered. And later, “Fruit Stand, how about a snack?” He accepted hesitantly. By the end of the day, his name didn’t seem much odder than Heather’s or Sun Ray’s. At dismissal time, the teachers led the children out to the buses. “Fruit Stand, do you know which one is your bus?” He didn’t answer. That wasn’t strange. He hadn’t answered them all day. Lots of children are shy on the first day of school. It didn’t matter. The teachers had instructed the parents to write the names of their children’s bus stops on the reverse side of their name tags. The teacher simply turned over the tag. There, neatly printed, was the word “Anthony.” (Luanne Oleas in Salinas, Calif., Reader’s Digest).
We all have names, my God given name is Daniel, unless I go back to my home in North Dakota, then its Danny (nobody there calls me Dan as they do here). Here I’m best known as Pastor Dan, hopefully it is a name I have earned.
But names take on a much, much deeper meaning in Scripture. There your name is what defines you and your family name is one you defend to the end. From Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver and gold.” We hear the same message in Ecclesiastes 7:1, “A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth.”
A good name in these terms is attached to reputation and honor. Everything you do, reflects on your name. If you are dishonest, your name will be met with dishonor. If you are righteous, your name will be looked at with favor.
A family’s name ties everyone in that family together and, if one person tarnishes that name by his actions, it reflects upon the whole family. When our kids went out for the evening with friends we would often tell them to, “Remember who you are and whose you are.” We did this to remind them that their actions affected more then just them, if their actions were uncaring, they affected everyone that carried the family name.
And they knew what we meant by the family name, it meant the name we claimed in two families, our earthly family and our heavenly one. They were brought up to know that their names meant something and were a reflection of the things they held dear.
In our world today, we have many claiming the name of “Christian,” yet they do not reflect that name with honor. They claim one way of life but live another. They forget that, by taking on the name of Christ, they are, “…a new creation, the old has passed away, behold the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). They claim the name for what they think it will give them, but they lead their lives as if that name means very little to them.
Whether your name is Anthony or Fruit Stand, the honor you bring your name and the name of those you claim to represent, is found in your actions. As Christians, our actions reflect Christ. If we act as hypocrites to what this name stands for, everyone else who claims that name is affected. So, wear both the name of your family on earth and the family name of Christian with honor. Uphold the trust of both your earthly and your heavenly families by wearing that name as one who seeks to uphold it in righteousness. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10). Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, forgive us when we have not acted in accordance to the name You have given us. Help us to represent both our earthly family and our heavenly family with honor. Lead us by Your grace to value Your name. Amen.