What’s in a Name?

Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness (Psalm 115:1 NIV).

My name is Heather Corinne King, nee Hunt.  My mother chose my name because it sounded pretty and seemed unique.  She didn’t know any other moms bouncing baby Heathers on their knees at the time.

Of course, life with its taste for irony, turned out a little differently than she expected.  The name Heather was the most popular girl’s name the year I was born and I spent my childhood being distinguished from other Heathers with numbers and initials.

That hasn’t ended either.  When I call people in my church, I always tell them, “this is Heather King,” as opposed to the other two Heathers in our congregation.

So much for being unique.

Still, I do think my name has its own beauty about it, something I discovered even more over time.

My husband and I prayed over the names of each of our daughters and they eagerly ask every few months what their chosen names mean.  Not that they don’t know.  We’ve told them often enough.  I think they just like to hear us tell the story.

We tell them they are reminders of victory and strength.  They are called after Godly women in our families, for queens, and for women in the Bible who served Jesus and tended to His every need.  Their names mean Victorious Light, Praise, God’s Promise, and Purity.

Then my daughters typically ask me what my name means.

It’s a flower.

A pretty flower?

Well kind of a pretty flower.  It grows in Scotland in the fields.  Sometimes it’s purple (I add, trying to convince them that this is indeed an awesome name).

They seem unimpressed.  So much for a name with a great meaning.

Or is it?  After answering their questions about it so often, I began to think what it means to be a “flower maiden,” or “Heather Corinne.”  Flowers of any variety reflect the beauty of their Creator, bring Him glory and praise, and trust in His tender hand to care for their every need, even their very survival.  Isn’t that the desire of my heart?

Maybe it’s meaningful after all.

Most of us have this same interest in why our moms and dads narrowed down hundreds of choices in a Baby Name book and came up with our particular combination–First, Middle and Last.

God shares our interest.  He’s profoundly involved throughout Scripture in the naming of promised children and in the renaming of chosen people.

But He’s also intensely protective of His own name, to an extent that might baffle us.  In Ezekiel, God declares, “I will be jealous for My holy name” (Ezekiel 39:25, HCSB).

It’s not so much His name as in a word, but as the New Living Translation expresses it, God will “jealously guard (His) holy reputation!”

Surely when He acts on our behalf, our God of Abundant Love does so because He cares for us and has compassion and mercy.

So often, though, His primary motivation in delivering His people is the protection of His reputation or the glory of His name.

This is why I wrote in One of the King Girls that we should “pray that others will glorify God because of us.”  God has willingly entrusted us with His reputation, allowing us to represent His love and holiness in our daily lives.

Not just allowing us to uphold His reputation, but expecting us, commissioning us and commanding us to do so.

As a child, I learned the Ten Commandments in the King James Version, including number three: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7 KJV).

I’ve heard pastors preach that this means we can’t use “God” or “Jesus” as an expletive.  Then they explain that the verse is about profanity in general.  Others note that any variation of the names of deity is out also, so “gosh, gee” and others were equally condemnable offenses.

In her book Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus, however, Lois Tverberg digs deeper.  She says:

“In Jewish thought, this commandment is understood to have a much greater meaning.  The text literally says, ‘You shall not lift up the name (reputation) of the Lord for an empty thing.’  One of the ways that the rabbis interpreted this was doing something evil publicly and associating God with it.  It is a sin against God himself, who suffers from having his reputation defamed” (p. 79).

This doesn’t free us to be foul-mouthed profaners of God’s name.  Surely upholding His reputation means watching the words we speak.

Yet, that’s not the only point of this command.  The real issue is that we don’t drag God’s name into the dirt and trample all over it by taking our responsibility as His ambassadors and ministers of the Gospel lightly.

This doesn’t just impact what we say; it influences every aspect of how we live and love and teach and respond and stand up for what is right and true even when others think we’re crazy.

God’s name isn’t like ours, pretty and meaningful perhaps, but devoid of power.  His name is might and strength and His glory beyond our comprehension.  He’s told us to live in such a way that we don’t take His name in vain.

Instead, fully aware of this responsibility, we glorify His name, giving Him the honor and praise He is due.  That’s what happens when people look at us and see Him, only Him, gloriously Him.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

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