I love it when someone says my name, it shows that they know me. When we give each other a nickname, it reveals just how well we know each other. My friends call me the “grandma” of the group, because I always take care of everyone, and usually bring snacks to share; but this is only a part of who I am. 

Certain friends only see certain sides of me. No one seems to know us as we know ourselves. We define ourselves by what we do, what’s been done to us, our status, our relationships, and our feelings; however, these things change, and our feelings don’t always point us to the truth. 

When We Define Ourselves.

We need a sure truth in order to know who we really are. Let’s look to the One who knows us better than we know ourselves, God, our creator. He declared to Moses “I am that I am” (Exodus 3:14 ESV). God has many names. Throughout scripture, His character is revealed by the things He does through people and their stories. 

Here is what the Psalmists declare about God. “A shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” (Psalm 3:3)  “My help.” (Psalm 54:4) “My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.” (Psalm 62:7) “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:2)

Let’s look in the Bible where people gave themselves another name compared to how God saw them. 

In Luke’s Gospel, Zachariah rejected the title of fathership ascribed by God only focusing on his inability, saying ‘“How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years”’ (Luke 1:18 ESV). 

In the book of Ruth, Naomi defined herself by all the bad things that happened to her, renaming herself from Naomi, which means “pleasant,” to Mara, which means “bitter,” saying “for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20 ESV). 

In Judges, Gideon rejected the title of “mighty man of valor” that God called him to fight the enemy and, instead, defined himself by his small status in life, ‘“Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (Judges 6:12, 16 ESV). 

In Exodus, Moses questioned God’s calling to return to Egypt, the place from which he ran and relationships left, saying ‘“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”’ (Exodus 3:11 ESV). 

In Genesis, Adam and Eve defined themselves by their own fear, saying to God, “I was afraid… so I hid” (Genesis 3:10 ESV). 

God calls people to act and asks them to trust Him. When we trust God and walk in obedience to Him, we grow closer to Him and reveal His character through our stories. 

When God Defines Us. 

They all stopped short and believed the lie of fear. They believed they were alone and unable to complete their mission. God declares, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV). 

Let’s believe God, that He is who He says He is, and He will do what He says He will do. For when we believe Him, we come to know Him, and when we know our Creator, we come to know ourselves. He gives us a new name. 

You may have been a Saul living for yourself, but now you are a Paul living for God. The old you has passed away and the new you has come (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)! We identify ourselves by what God has done for us, in us, and through us. We are no longer victims, but we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37 ESV). 

Our New Identity.

  • We identify ourselves by the status God has granted us, as both servants of the King and royals. 
  • We identify ourselves by the restored relationship we have with God as His children. 
  • We identify ourselves by the truth in scripture rather than the lies of this world and the fickle feelings of our minds. 

Check out this awesome scripture where God declares who He is to us and who we are to Him:

“But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior….
Because you are precious in my eyes                                                                                                                                                             and honored, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:1-4 ESV).

I once heard someone condemn John the disciple of Jesus for him calling himself “the one who Jesus loved” as if John were being too prideful (John 13:23 ESV). But that’s just it! John wasn’t identifying himself by anything he did to get Jesus to love him or favor him but solely on the fact that Jesus straight-up loves him. 

If fear makes us hid like Adam and Eve, then love makes us bold like John. After all, as John writes, “There is no fear in love, but perfect loves casts out fear” (1 John 4:18 ESV). John recognized the reality that he is loved. And this fear-casting-out love is for all of us. For Jesus so loved the whole world (John 3:16 ESV). 

Friend, I am the one whom Jesus loves. You are the one whom Jesus loves! So, beloved, who are you? What is your name? 

“This one will say, ‘I am the Lord’s,’
    another will call on the name of Jacob,
and another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’
    and name himself by the name of Israel”’ (Isaiah 44:5 ESV).