She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)
In the ancient world (and in some cultures today), the name given to a newborn baby meant something more than a word with which to call the child. For the Israelite baby, receiving a name was the first significant and important experience in life. Hebrew parents would give the child a particular name for a variety of reasons: to describe their future hopes for the child; to paint a picture of the child’s personality; to commemorate an event close to the time of birth; to continue a family name passed down from previous generations; to utter a prophetic revelation of the destiny of the child. And in God’s perfect providence, many children would live up to their name. Here are the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Reuben “Look, a son!”
Simeon “One who hears”
Levi “Being attached”
Dan “To judge”
Naphtali “My struggle”
Gad “Good fortune”
Joseph “May he add”
Benjamin “Son of my right hand”
God was personally involved in the “Name Game.” When God promised Abram that he would father many nations and that his offspring would outnumber the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, he renamed him Abraham, which means “father of many.”
God sent an angel who appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him what to name the baby that Mary was carrying in her womb: His name was to be Jesus—the Greek form of the name Joshua, which means “the Lord saves”—because He would save His people from their sins.
My name given at birth was Thomas, meaning “twin.” I don’t have a twin; my parents wanted to pass down my father’s name to me. I don’t know what your name is by birth, but I do know what your new name is by second birth: CHRISTIAN, which means “follower of Christ.” You received that name when you, by grace through faith, placed your trust in our Lord Jesus Christ for your eternal salvation.
So the question is this: “Are you living up to your new name?” Now, I am not suggesting that any of us can live up to the name “Christian” perfectly, but we must strive to live up to our name progressively. That is the process that we call sanctification. The same grace that saves us is the same grace that sanctifies us, making us more and more like Christ each day.
Remember, He who gave you your new name and began a good work in you will bring that work to completion when you are brought home into glory (Philippians 1:6). Knowing what your new name in Christ means, will you prayerfully consider any changes you should make in your life in order to better reflect who you truly are? God is ready, willing, and able to bring about that change if you are.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!