July 28 – Coward to Conqueror – The Power of a Name

Read Judges 6:12

Third grade was a hard year, one I’d like to forget. My teacher called me “Charlie”. In today’s culture, that is a common nickname for a girl, but not decades ago. I hated the name. I always loved my name, Charline, and despised being called a name I associated with as a boy’s name.

We’ve all been called names and we’ve placed unkind names on others. It’s amazing how a name can become a person’s identity. Perhaps that’s why the writer of Proverbs says, “A good name is to be more desired than great riches.” (Prov. 22:1) Whoever penned the words, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me” didn’t understand the power of names. Names can hurt. Names hold power. But, just as a name can inflict pain and shape an identity in a damaging way, a good name can shape it positively. Names can bring death or life.

Gideon easily could have been called a “coward”, a “scaredy cat”, or a “chicken”. Perhaps he even heard those names reverberate in his mind. He certainly wasn’t acting as a warrior, let alone a valiant and courageous one! But God’s identity isn’t the identity that we give ourselves or that the world gives us. God chose to call Gideon a valiant warrior. Gideon would soon discover that his new identity had nothing to do with him, but everything to do with God.

What does God call us? Is our identity rooted in past behaviors or names we’ve been called? Ephesians chapter 1 is our identity chapter as followers of Christ. It is filled with beautiful names God has called us. This is who we are in Christ:

Blessed- with every spiritual blessing

Chosen- before the foundation of the world

Loved- with an everlasting love

Adopted- as sons and daughters into His family

Redeemed- through Christ’s blood

Forgiven- of all our sins

Heir- of His inheritance

Sealed- with the Holy Spirit of promise

God’s possession- belong to Him

Even though Gideon didn’t feel like a valiant warrior, he acted in his new identity. He chose not to be conformed to the world’s view of him, but was transformed, and I’m sure that required the renewing of his mind. He embraced his new identity and became who God called him. I just bet he loved his new name. I know I would have in third grade.

Charline Engle

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