Posted by: Jo | July 22, 2011


Shakespeare wrote long ago that, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, but I am not sure that Shakespeare was quite right about names, especially names given to humans. Names we are called can have a profound effect upon our lives.

When we were small children, we would chant a little ditty that went like this

Sticks and stones
Will break my bones,
But names will never hurt me.

When I’m dead
And in my grave,
You’ll be sorry for what you called me!

We may have bravely shouted that while someone was calling us names, but the fact is that old saying is not true.

Names can hurt us!

When a child is called dumb or stupid enough times, the child will begin to believe that to be true. When someone is called by some ugly racial slur, division between nationalities widens. When those who are struggling with addictions or extreme poverty are called dead beats, bums or drop outs they are just trampled down further.

Names matter!

The Bible has a lot to say about names, especially the ones that our Heavenly Father calls us. Our names matter so much to him, he has them engraved on the palm of his hand;

“See I have engraved you on the palm of my hands” – Isaiah 49:6

When I was a little girl my father would hide something in the palm of his hand and the trick for us children was to pry open those big fingers and find the treasure inside. Imagine prying open the fingers of God and finding your name written on his palm.

God also hears all those cruel names his children are called. He winces when that child hears yet again how stupid he or she is. He weeps with those who are taunted by ugly racial nicknames, just because of skin color, country, or religion. He suffers with those who are labelled inferior and given nasty names to remind them that they are losers, not worthy to share in any happiness that the rich, the beautiful or the intelligent deserve.

But here is the good news. God is in the business of changing names. He promises all that call out to him, he will give a new name.

“You will be called a new name. You will be called a Holy people, the redeemed of the Lord” – Isaiah 62:2

What a list of gracious names he has waiting to bestow upon us. How does “chosen one” – (John 15:16) sound or “precious child” (1 Peter 2:4) and what a rush of warm feelings overcome us when we hear Jesus call us “friend” (John 15:15).

My favourite is “beloved”. The dictionary defines beloved as being highly esteemed so when we hear him whisper, “You are my beloved”, no other name has the power to hurt us.

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders” – Deuteronomy 33:12

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  1. I can identify with this post. As a child I was called many names because of my hearing, or rather the lack of it because I was hard of hearing. Years later those words would come back to haunt me especially whenever I made a blunder and there were many. What changed was not just knowing I was loved by God, but telling myself the truth that I was not dumb, stupid or retarded – words I was called as a little girl. By telling myself the truth that I was smart, capable and able to do many things and that the devil was a liar, because he is the father of lies. By receiving the truth of God’s unconditional love me and knowing that I’m engraved on the palms of His hands – the marks Jesus bears when He was nailed to the cross tells me so.


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