What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
I love William Shakespeare’s plays and Romeo and Juliet may be his most famous one. Most know the story of the two star-crossed lovers, but I’ll give a brief overview for everyone’s benefit. The Montagues and the Capulets are two rival families that hate each other. Juliet is a Capulet. Romeo is a Montague. They fall in love with each other and it gets everyone killed. It is a wonderful play.
During the play, Juliet remarks about Romeo’s name. She loved him for just being himself. She didn’t care if he was called a Montague. She thought that a rose would remain the same if is had a different name, but Juliet was naïve. If you called roses “poop flowers”, I doubt any woman would want them delivered to their door. It is true that the “poop flowers”, formerly know as roses, would smell good, but who would want to stick their nose in a “poop flower”?
So, the name matters. We can just glance at the bible to know this is true. Abram become Abraham because he would be the father of nations. Simon became Peter because it meant “rock”. Saul became Paul. And Jesus’ name would be prophesied by Isaiah. So, names seem to be important according to scripture.
Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.”
FORGET TO BECOME FRUITFUL
Recently, I heard a sermon that stuck with me. So, some of the ideas I am about to share are not completely my own, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t share them.
I’ve established an importance in names, especially in the Bible. I think there are direct lessons to be learned from the names given to people in Bible. My example comes from the story of Joseph. I have to admit that I cringe when I read the first half of Joseph’s story. His brothers were jealous of him and they threw him in a ditch. Then they sold him into slavery. Just when things started to look up, he is accused of rape and thrown into prison for many years. There he sat in prison until one day he is given the chance to interpret the Pharaoh’s dreams.
Joseph interpreted the Pharaoh’s dreams and adverted the Egyptian people from starving. The Pharaoh was so grateful that he made Joseph a ruler of Egypt. To make a long story short, Joseph encountered his brothers during his reign. I’m sure he was full of anger and rage when he saw them, but ultimately he reunites with his family.
That is a hard thing for me to swallow. I think I would have tortured them to death, but Joseph eventually embraces them as brothers. How did he do it, though?
The answer is in the name’s of his children.
Genesis 41:51-52 “Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” The second son he named Ephriam and said “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
It blows my mind how much Joseph had to forget in order to let go. The past seems to always creep up on us, but Joseph’s past must have felt like the worst haunted house film you can imagine. Despite that, he forgot and after he forgot he was fruitful. The past was forgotten and his future was fruitful because of it. Joseph never took credit, either. Both of his son’s names claim that “God Has…”. It was because of God that Joseph could forget and be fruitful.
“In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time—for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays….”
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters are written from the perspective of demons that daily attack us. One of the things the devil wants most is for us to be obsessed with the Past or with the Future. The Past is gone and can not be changed, but the devil would love for us to look back and reminisce. He wants us to say, “Gosh, things were so much better back then. I wish things were like that again.”
Or he wants us focused on the Future. Then the devil wants us to say, “I can’t wait until things get better.” The problem with that is things will never be good enough. Remember, that we are not made for this sinful world. We are designed for holy communion with Christ in heaven. Our time on Earth is brief and we are only here to temper us to be more like Christ.
Ultimately, the devil wants us to see what we don’t have and look back at what we did have, but that is not Christ’s command. He wants us to live in the present. In order to do that we must remember this important verse.
Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
So, we started on names and that lead to forgetting to be fruitful, but ultimately this is about living for today. What are you doing today to further the kingdom of Christ? What does today look like? Tomorrow will be here tomorrow, but today is now. What are you going to do with it? Romeo and Juliet risked it all for love. Abraham changed his name and became a father of a nation. Peter became one of Christ’s closest disciples. Joseph suffered one day at a time in order to become the ruler of Egypt.
What will you do with today?