On the day of my daughter’s birth, I remember holding her and feeling overwhelmed with love. As I cradled her in my arms, I resolved to do anything to keep her safe, to take care of her and to protect her.
I called out her name—Emma—for the first time, and it was a beautiful sound.
Oh, the effort my wife, Lori, and I had put into choosing that name. Nine months of baby name books, website searches, and disagreements. Nine months of trying to anticipate any terrible nicknames playground bullies could create.
Emma. To us, it was beauty and gentleness.
If I were to ask you what your name is, you would quickly tell me the name everyone calls you. But what is the “name” that defines who you are and how you feel about yourself?
Perhaps it’s “Ashamed” or “Divorced.” Maybe it’s “Mistake” or “Screw-up” or some defining characteristic of your life.
What part of your life defines you? What is that name you have taken on and just cannot shake?
In the Old Testament, names often had layered meanings, especially the names of Hosea and Gomer’s kids. God asked them to choose very surprising names. Their first child, a son, is named “Jezreel,” which means “God scatters” (Hosea 1:4). A daughter’s name means “not loved,” and a second son’s name means “not my people.” The names of Hosea’s children point to the emotional intensity of God’s love and how His people betrayed that love.
The great news is God offers new names, better identities, to His people. We can trade in that old “name” that hangs over us.
I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Revelation 2:17 when He says to the church in Pergamum, “I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.”
White stones in Pergamum were given out to those who won athletic events. The white stone or pebble allowed a person access to certain environments and circles that otherwise would have been restricted. It caused others to show respect and admiration. It meant the person carrying it was a winner.
So Jesus is offering a new identity, a new name, a white stone that declares you are a winner in Him. We don’t have to wait to receive the new name to live like we already see ourselves differently.
People may have said you are a loser, but Jesus says you share in His victory. If you’ve heard you aren’t worth anything, Jesus says you are worth His sacrifice. You may have been told that you’ll never change, never make anything of yourself … Jesus says that your old identity is in the past, and He offers you a new name today.
Your name is Accepted.
Your name is Victor.
Your name is Loved.
Today, wear that new name proudly, and don’t allow your old name to remind you of the person you used to be. You have a new name, “Child of God.”