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What's In A Name?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The government just released the top ten American baby names for 2013 as recorded on Social Security card applications. When comparing the top ten names from 100 years ago, only one boy's name, William, and one girl's name, Elizabeth, are on both lists.

Noah, the current number 1 boy's name, did not crack the top 500 until 1969. Liam, currently number 2, was not even in the top 1000 in 1973 and number 9, Jayden, was not there prior to 1994.

Sophia has been in the top 1000 girl’s names for over a century coming in at number 232 in 1913. Emma, currently number 2, was very popular in 1913, coming in at number 38, although it faded in popularity somewhat during the middle of the century. Other current top 10 girl’s names like Ava and Mia were relatively uncommon until recent years. It seems that in America names come and go like a fashion.

New parents often spend considerable time trying to pick their child's name. There is a lot to consider. Is the name popular? Is it too popular? Does it sound pleasing to the ear? Is it so unusual that the child will be forever explaining how to pronounce or spell their name? Do the initials spell an inappropriate word? What about relatives, friends, or a significant person who would be honored by having the child named after them?

In the Old Testament, a person's name was closely linked to their character. Thus, the meaning of a person’s name was important. For example, in 1 Samuel 25:25, Nabal is said to be like his name which means "fool." The Old Testament scholar Walter Kaiser, Jr. has observed that “ideally, the name was either descriptive of the parents' wishes or prophetic of the personality to be manifested by one so named.” He states that names were often "integral parts of one's character and fortune" [s.v. Name, ZPEB, IV:362]. In the book of Genesis a number of the major characters have their name changed after they encounter God. Abram becomes Abraham, his wife Sarai becomes Sarah, and Jacob becomes Israel.

Those who have placed their faith in Christ have gained a new name, reflecting their new family: Christian. This is the name that describes who God sees me as. This is the name that describes my potential to be the person God created me to be. This is the name I will carry for eternity.

What does your name mean? Does it mean something different to you than to others? If you could choose a different name what would you choose?

Pastor Green

Cornerstone Community Church

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