How does the Bible place value on names? What’s the difference between divinely appointed names and hurtful labels bestowed by circumstances? How can a God-given name for you boldly declare freedom from your past and hope for your future? Do you let the truth of who you are be overshadowed by your relationship status, your job title, or what others say about you?
Bible Gateway interviewed Esther Fleece Allen (@EstherFleece), author of Your New Name: Saying Goodbye to the Labels That Limit (Zondervan, 2020).
Why are names so important?
Esther Fleece Allen: The word label hardly ever shows up in the Bible’s original languages, and when it does, it’s similar to the word called: he or she was “called” something. Naming is more significant than labeling, perhaps because labeling only speaks to the titles others put on us, while naming speaks to our very core. Labels are about what’s on the outside. Naming goes so much deeper.
Recount the story of Ruth’s new name you include in your book.
Esther Fleece Allen: Your New Name was birthed out of my study time to teach out of the book of Ruth. I saw how Naomi took on the name “Mara” when her circumstances were dire. Similarly, many of us are tempted to taken on new names when our situations get tough. But God did not rename Naomi on her darkest day, and your new name is not based on your circumstance or situation. God’s names for us are rooted in how he sees us or what we will become.
What are other examples of new names given to people in the Bible?
Esther Fleece Allen: Abram and Sarai were given new names for what they would become. Jacob was given a new name when he wrestled with God. That’s the thing I love about studying new names. No two name changes were alike! This shows us the creativity of God in the name-changing process. Your new name will be unique and personal to you!
Does God give everyone new names? How do we know when he gives us a new name?
Esther Fleece Allen: Yes! We all get a new name. While not all of us will have a physical name change, there will be evidence of our old life (label) and the new thing God has done inside of us. What new thing has God done inside of you? This is a name worth telling!
Putting emphasis on our labels can sometimes unintentionally put our sin on display. Instead, speak from a place of being made new! God is always in the business of making us new, and our new name is just one aspect of us becoming new creations because of his work.
How can people incorrectly name themselves?
Esther Fleece Allen: Daniel was given a new name by the Babylonian culture he was living in. In a similar vein, we can be given names and labels assigned to us by the culture. We need to be on guard that the culture will want to rename us in a way that erases the name of God. Instead, who does God say you are? Knowing who we are and whose we are is an important tool to help us overcome a world that’ll misunderstand us and attempt to rename us.
What are practical steps we can take to discover our new name?
Esther Fleece Allen: At the end of each chapter, I include a list of labels that limit and new names that were introduced in the chapter. My hope is that the reader will identify with at least one of these labels and throw it aside, while picking up a new name God may have for them.
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Each chapter has a biblical example of a name change, so the reader can see ways God has worked in the past. It will also teach us what to guard against: labeling others and incorrectly naming ourselves. Our spiritual name change isn’t a formula. It’s is a gift we receive from God when he remakes us and we take on his name as Christians. God made fishermen into fishers-of-men, and God has new names and a new identity waiting for you, too!
What do you mean new names are given, not earned?
Esther Fleece Allen: Adam named Eve “giver of life” before she bore any children. Our new names are given to us by the God who names the stars. God sees us individually and personally and has names and plans for us all. We don’t earn our new names by our successes or accolades, just as our failures and sin are not the place God renames a Christian. God’s names for us are better than we can see for ourselves.
How do new names benefit people?
Esther Fleece Allen: When you begin living out of your new name, you can leave the old labels behind. Labels like meaningless, misunderstood, or not measuring up. You begin to see these as lies that are intended to limit us or lie to us. Our new names are tools to empower us to live free and represent the name of Christ unhindered.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Esther Fleece Allen: For the purposes of Your New Name, I’m inspired by Isaiah 26:8, “Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts” (bold mine).
Remembering God’s name in all we do brings glory and honor to his name. I want to bring glory and honor to the name of God all the days of my life. God wants me to know I’m named and identified as his, and I can live out of this identity confidently.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?
Esther Fleece Allen: I use Bible Gateway every day during my study time. I appreciate the different translations and commentaries and the ease in which they make it available to read and study the word of God!
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Esther Fleece Allen: The book of Revelation tells us that we’ll get a new name, and that God himself has a new name. For the rest of our lives—here and in the afterlife—we’ll be getting to know more about the name of our great God. God heals people in his name. We’re taught to pray in his name. We’re to revere his name and bring glory to his name. We’re not to take God’s name in vain. God’s name matters, and so does yours. Knowing who we are will help us to reflect God’s name.
Have you asked God for your new name?
Your New Name is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Esther Fleece Allen loves to connect people around the world to practical, faith-centered tools for living through every season, good and bad. A graduate of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and is currently in seminary, Esther is the author of Your New Name: Saying Goodbye to the Labels That Limit and No More Faking Fine: Ending the Pretending. When she’s not traveling to speak or teach, she enjoys making a home with her husband and children. Learn more at estherfleeceallen.com, and share your own story with Esther at @EstherFleece.
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