Have you ever read one of those books where there’s this horrible character that makes you despise his very name, even when it’s not in connection with him? Or where a good character makes you not dislike a name quite so strongly as you usually do? (Childhood memories of Joey Brill vs. Frank and Joe Hollister…) Why do they do that? Why do we sometimes love or despise names based on the character of someone who has that name?
My theory is that it’s because a person’s character becomes our perceived definition of their name. I may not know what your name really means, but I know what your character makes your name sound like to me. As I was pondering, Proverbs 22:1 came to mind:
“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”
Some translations say “a good reputation”. That got me thinking. A ‘good name’ is just the meaning that your life says your name has. Your behavior, your character – they’re the real definition of your name. It doesn’t matter so much what definition came with the name when you received it, but what definition your life makes for the name. What meanings are you and I choosing for our names? Way too often I suspect my name probably means “easily irritated” or “too busy for you” or “too scared to speak up”, and it’s not cool. I don’t want to be known for that! What about you? What’s your life say your name means? And if you don’t like what it means, what are you going to go about it?
As for me, I think it’s time to hit this one with prayer. I don’t like a lot of what I see in my character, and I know (from experience, heh) that I can’t change what I see without God’s help; but by His power my name can become something that gives Him glory. So, what do you want your name to mean to the people around you? The God who parted the sea and brought rivers of water gushing out of rocks can also provide the power to overcome bad character qualities and give you a new name. A “good name”.