Summary: God's name is not in vain.

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Watch Your Mouth

Exodus 20:7

Rev. Brian Bill


People get mixed up on my name all the time. Some people call me “Bill” and I’ve even been called “Brain,” though I’m not sure where that one comes from. When I’m called “Mr. Bill” people around my age think of his sidekick “Sluggo” and start laughing. I like to joke that having three first names means that when people say my name three guys come running! I tell people not to worry if they get my name wrong because it happens all the time. It’s not a big deal to me.

When someone says your name, the hope is that good things come to their mind. That’s why it hurts so much when someone takes your name through the mud or attributes things to you that you’ve never said or done. I’m reminded of Proverbs 22:1: “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” The converse is also true according to 1 Samuel 25:25: “May my lord pay no attention to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name – his name is Fool, and folly goes with him.”

All you need to do is hear the name Judas Iscariot or Hitler or the Chicago Bears and strong negative images come to your mind. Some names make us laugh like Dweezil Zappa and his sister Moon Unit. Some people are assigned nicknames by the media like “Octomom.” Names are a big deal though, aren’t they? We search for just the right name for our children. Have you ever noticed that celebrities seem to go out of their way to choose names that are very unusual? Here are some actual names that I came across: Dandelion, Fifi Trixibell, Jeronimo, and Ocean.

Other celebrities have changed their names like former Miami Dolphin Mark Dupas who changed his name to Mark Duper. That didn’t quite say what he wanted it to say, so he changed it to Mark Super Duper. The musician Prince changed his name to a symbol and now it’s back to Prince. NBA player Ron Artest, wanting to turn over a new leaf and get away from his reputation as a fighter changed his name to “Metta World Peace.” I don’t think that’s going so well for him. A couple months ago he decked another player with his elbow and was suspended for seven games, which is nothing compared to his suspension of 86 games in 2004 for fighting with a fan.

Some names are so well-known that they’ve become synonymous with a product. For instance, most of us don’t reach for a “tissue,” we reach for a “Kleenex.” “Band-Aids” and “Scotch Tape” are example of this as well. Companies know the importance of their name, even putting trademarks on it so no one can use it wrongly. Related to this, Beth and I saw a coffee shop in Bethlehem with the name “Stars and Bucks.” Companies enforce copyrights and trademarks because they don’t want anyone infringing on their name.

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