A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. (Ecclesiastes 7:1)
Who We Are Is What We Are
There is one thing in life that we had no choice in yet defines everything about us. The choice of being born was made by our parents and the name given in birth was not by our design but the will of others. We learn early to recognize the name when it is used. From a young age, children respond to a name. Like blank pages of a book, a child’s mind is receptive to the language that identifies them without regard to the meaning. All children are born with an open and receptive mind to accept whatever culture they are born into. A child born in a German family will respond to the German language much like a child born to an Italian family will grow up speaking Italian. No one tells them why they speak the language. They accept it as natural. The name given is the same identifying marker that separates them from all the billions of people on earth. A name is who we are in the world we grow up and identify with.
The influence of a name is determined by what a person does with that name. A name begins as a neutral identity with no significance or importance. If the character or reputation of the person becomes evil, the name becomes evil. In April of 1889, a little boy was born to Alois and Klara Hitler that was as unassuming as any boy in Austria. However, the name Adolf Hitler is synonymous with evil and hatred. In the late 1700s, a family migrated from a German village near the French border to America where the family would settle in Kansas. The family moved to Texas for a short time where they had a son born whom they called Dwight David Eisenhower. This name would be recognized as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe that would help bring World War 2 to a conclusion. Dwight Eisenhower would become the 34th President of the United States. His name is respected in the annals of history as a soldier and leader of the free world.
There are many things to seek in life, but the only thing left on a marble headstone is a name and a date. The name inscribed speaks to the volume of life. It speaks to the character, reputation, and influence of the person. When all is said and done, all that a person leaves behind is their name. Solomon writes that a good name is better than anything a man may attain in life. A costly perfume will pass away but a good name will endure. The day of death is what seals a name in the eternal vault of knowledge. It takes a lifetime to create a good name but only a moment to destroy it. King David is remembered as a man after God’s own heart but his name will always be soiled with the story of Bathsheba. A good name is hard to come by and even harder to keep.
The Bible begins with a name. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The Lord identifies Himself immediately by telling a man what His name is. This name must be revered and honored and respected. The end of the Bible also includes a name: the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything between Genesis and the Revelation is about the name of divinity. The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit give their names to identify who they are and what they have done for mankind. Every child is given a name by their parents and God will use that name to either inscribe it on the pages of the Book of Life or to cast it away from Him. God knows the names of every person that lives on the earth and He will recall that name on the final day of judgment. The day of death seals our names in eternity. What we did with that name will determine our destiny whether it is a good name or an evil name. That decision is yours. What you do with your name is who you are and who you will become. A good name is to be treasured above all things.