Thursday, November 11, 2010

What's in a Name?

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

-- 2 Corinthians 6:14

Since the beginning of recorded history, names have defined our personal traits, our professions and even our family lineage. For instance, the name David means beloved. Catherine means pure. And if your name happens to be Cooper McDonald, it means you’re Donald’s son, the barrel-maker. Choosing the right baby name is therefore one of the most important decisions that parents will make. After all, saddling a child with the wrong moniker can result in a lifetime of ridicule and burden. (Or at least a few giggles.) Just ask Ima Hogg (the daughter of a Texas governor) or Shanda Lear (of Lear Jet aircraft fame).

Going to God for His guidance – rather than a website found on Google – is always a smart move when naming a child. But there are some other critical decisions that come later in life that are arguably more important. And ignoring God’s Word in these matters can lead to much greater trouble and heartache than choosing an awkward baby name.

The first issue involves career choices. It’s the answer to that timeless question every parent asks their child: What do you want to do when you grow up?

God guides us about this in several ways. First, we need to look at the gifts and talents He’s given us. For instance, the ability to make friends and persuade others could mean success in sales and marketing. An interest and love of nature could lead to a career as a scientist or veterinarian. And a natural affinity for mathematics could mean hefty paychecks as an engineer or software designer. But whatever job you take – no matter how big or how small -- the question to ask is whether or not it honors God. As the Apostle Paul wrote in the third chapter of Colossians: The second life-changing question involves marriage. Specifically, should you get married? And if so, to whom? On the first point, either choice is acceptable. Paul advocated the single life for some Christ-followers. But for others – depending on their circumstances -- marriage was the best option. On the other hand, the standard for choosing the right mate is more clear-cut: the lucky guy (or gal) should be a committed follower of Jesus Christ.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

That’s Biblical guidance that can save you years of pain, heartache and regret. And the saying is corny but true: The couple that prays together, stays together. Or as God warns us through the Book of 2 Corinthians, we shouldn’t be yoked to unbelievers. It’s true that the daily example of a Christ-follower can be a positive witness to his or her unbelieving spouse. But in many cases, differing spiritual beliefs lead only to frustration, confusion and conflict.

Whether it’s the big questions in life or the seemingly insignificant ones, you can seek God’s will through prayer, Scripture and advice from trusted believers. We worship a God who calls us His sons and daughters. And like the loving Parent that He is, He always wants to hear from His children.

“We are certain that God will hear our prayers when we ask for what pleases him,” we read in 1 John. “And if we know that God listens when we pray, we are sure that our prayers have already been answered.”

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