I've always had a fascination with names.
I used to spend hours pouring over baby name books and websites, learning what different names meant and imagining what I might name my kids one day. I love asking people their name, and to this day, if you tell me your name once I will probably remember it.
Names are definitely no accident. They define us. Our parents get nine whole months to ponder the name that will be attached to us our entire lives. Nine whole months to name someone who they have never met, but love so deeply.
Before my parents even knew me, they named me. Before they saw glimpses of my personality, my passions, or my weaknesses, they prayed for me by name. Before I had a chance to disappoint them or make them proud, my name was sealed. My name was Elizabeth, I was part of the Moore family, and nothing could change that.
When it comes to names, two things are certain:
1) Names speak identity. In other words, names give language to who we are.
2) Names are given not earned.
As a child of God, the same is true.
If God speaks only Truth then, whether we act like it, feel like it, or not, whatever God calls us becomes our identity.
(Read the story of Gideon in Judges 6 to see how God took someone who was acting like a coward and called him a Mighty Warrior, therefore making Gideon possess the identity of a mighty warrior, not a coward.)
As a high school girl, this made no sense to me. I had always lived a lifestyle where if I did the work, I got the title. I worked at music so I would win. I worked at dance so I would get applauded. I worked at school so I would be noticed. An identity that was separate from my good works was inconceivable.
But the summer after high school, my eyes were finally opened to what it means to have a godly identity in Christ. I was in a 5-week summer program called Baby Ruths where six other girls and I were pushed to our mental and physical limits to learn that our lives are not about us.
One day in Bible Study, our teacher, Jeff, asked to name someone who we thought was a godly woman. We immediately launched into stories about all the wise women in our churches who were Proverbs 31 models and prayer warriors for their kids, grandkids, and husbands.
To our surprise, he interrupted our story telling to ask each of us:
So, are you a godly woman?
We all looked around at our eighteen year old selves and laughed. "Shoot, we are nowhere NEAR where those women are...those GODLY women. You have to go through a lot more life and be a much better Christian to be a godly woman." Maybe we could be godly women one day, but we weren't there yet.
Jeff then turned us back to the story of Gideon. What had Gideon done to deserve the name Mighty Warrior? Hide in a hole? Question God a hundred times? Doubt his calling? Yes. Gideon did all those things. But before he showed any courage in battle or faithful devotion to the Lord (which he does eventually), God sent an angel to meet him where he was and bestow upon him a new name--a new identity--Mighty Warrior.
His new name was given not earned.
My eyes got wide as Jeff explained this to us. I slowly started to piece together the fact that I was like Gideon. Just like Gideon was named a Mighty Warrior, I have been named a child of God--a godly child. As a follower of Jesus, I have a new name and a new identity that was bought for me by Jesus blood and given to me through complete and total grace.
To back up our identity with Truth, Jeff made us turn to identity statements in Scripture.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come."
John 1:12 says, "But to all who believed [Jesus] and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God."
I am a new creation; I am of God. The words of God have made me godly.
I am godly by grace; it's my new name. This is the identity I will forever claim.
Before that summer, I had it all backwards. I believed that if I acted godly, I would become godly. In reality, I already was godly because of the words of Truth and adoption the Lord had spoken over me.
Believers, stop striving to be godly. You ARE godly. Now live like it.
Claim it forever.