What Does God’s Name Mean to You?
THROUGH the preaching of Jehovah’s witnesses, millions of persons have come to learn God’s name, Jehovah. Perhaps you too have read this name in your Bible, as at Psalm 83:18.
God holds his name in high regard. This is shown by how often it is in his Word, the Bible. “Jehovah” appears 6,973 times in just the “Old Testament” or Hebrew Scripture portion of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. You can find it 237 times in the “New Testament” or Greek Scriptures of that version. That is a total of 7,210 times all together!
WHAT GOD’S NAME MEANT TO JESUS
God’s “name” is also important to Jesus Christ. Just before his death he prayed: “I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world . . . watch over them on account of your own name which you have given me . . . And I have made your name known to them and will make it known.”—John 17:6, 11, 26.
We are not to believe that when Jesus said, “I have made your name known” or “manifest,” he referred to only the pronunciation of the divine name. His listeners were Jews who, reportedly with the exception of the high priest, did not know the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, the four Hebrew letters making up the name. Then, how did Jesus, by more than pronouncing the name correctly, ‘make God’s name known’ to the apostles? Note the answer given by one noted Bible commentator:
“The word name [in John 17] includes the attributes, or character of God. Jesus had made known his character, his law, his will, his plan of mercy. Or in other words, he had revealed God to them. The word name is often used to designate the person.”—Notes, Explanatory and Practical, on the Gospels by Albert Barnes (1846).
So, as Jesus ‘explained the Father’ by his own entire perfect life course on earth, he was really ‘making God’s name known.’ He demonstrated that he spoke with God’s full backing and authority. Jesus could therefore say: “He that has seen me has seen the Father also.” God’s “name” thus took on greater meaning to his early followers. Accordingly, an appreciation of it and the Personality that it stood for should be reflected in every aspect of the Christian’s life.—John 14:9; 1:18; 5:19, 30; Matt. 11:27.
DOES YOUR TEACHING TRULY HONOR GOD’S NAME?
For instance, the Christian apostle Paul shows that a deep love for Jehovah himself, the Person represented by the divine name, would move a Christian to “offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name.”—Heb. 13:15.
Do you ‘publicly’ declare your faith in God’s name? Paul refers to the “fruit of lips,” but obviously he means more than just ‘lip service.’ The “sacrifice of praise” that comes from one’s mouth must be heartfelt, genuine. So, keeping God’s name holy by preaching and teaching involves more than just impressive-sounding words. Note how this is borne out at Romans 2:21-24:
“Do you, however, the one teaching someone else, not teach yourself? You, the one preaching ‘Do not steal,’ do you steal? You, the one saying ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery? You, the one expressing abhorrence of the idols, do you rob temples? You, who take pride in law, do you by your transgressing of the Law dishonor God? For ‘the name of God is being blasphemed on account of you people among the nations.’”
Teaching in God’s name requires the teacher to lead a life consistent with his “public declaration.” Suppose a father teaches his son “Do not steal.” But, then, what if the father himself behaves contrary to this, withholding income taxes or stealing from his neighbor? The man’s oral teaching will not likely convince his child. More importantly, the man is giving reason for “the name of God” to be “blasphemed.” So, real love for God’s name as well as effective teaching makes it mandatory that a Christian ‘practice what he preaches.’ Do you?
KEEPING GOD’S NAME HOLY IN CONNECTION WITH EMPLOYMENT
Further, did you realize that your actions at your place of employment reflect on God’s name? Paul shows this at 1 Timothy 6:1:
“Let as many as are slaves under a yoke keep on considering their owners worthy of full honor, that the name of God and the teaching may never be spoken of injuriously.”
In the first century Christian slaves were to render any master “full honor” or “greatest respect.” (An American Translation) To do otherwise would imply that God’s truth had made no real change in the slave. Christian teaching would appear powerless to affect lives. God’s name, yes, God himself, would “be spoken of injuriously.”—Compare 1 Peter 2:18.
Few persons today live in actual slavery. But the principles governing employer and employee are similar to those of slave and master. As a Christian, do your work habits give reason for anyone to ‘speak injuriously of God’s name’? For example, do you frequently show up late for work? Do you grant your employer “full honor,” even when not in his presence? Do you do this even though he may be a demanding employer? If you happen to have a “believing” employer, a fellow Christian, do you presume on his kindliness? If Jehovah’s name is truly holy to you, even your business relationships will show it.
LOVING GOD’S NAME BY MINISTERING TO OTHERS
One also shows love for God’s name by the way one deals with fellow Christians. Note this at Hebrews 6:10: “For God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones.”
When Paul wrote those words, good ‘works’ no doubt included rendering material help to fellow Christians in need or suffering persecution. (Heb. 10:32-34) Do you practice Christian hospitality?
From what we have discussed it is evident that the question, “What does God’s name mean to you,” involves much more than just knowing how to pronounce God’s personal name. It stands for God himself. So, his admirable qualities should be evident in all Christian dealings.
Are you one who is not yet acquainted with Jehovah? His witnesses will enjoy teaching you about him. You can contact them by writing the publishers of this magazine. Learn how your life may be a real credit to ‘God’s name.’
[Pictures on page 260]
If a father uses the Bible to teach his son not to steal but he himself cheats on taxes, the man brings reproach on God‘s name
A Christian who frequently shows up late for work may cause God’s name to be “spoken of abusively”