I got into livestock at the age of twelve. Bennie Chastain and I became co-owners of some livestock—well, a Mexican burro, actually. We were southern California wannabe cowboys, and we had to start somewhere. So, we pooled our resources and purchased this burro. The little animal had been around a while and was retired from a team used for donkey basketball games. I broke my piggy bank and came up with $12.50, my half of the purchase price. We found him in a lot near the corner of Rosecrans and Garfield Avenue, in Paramount. I will never forget leading that skittish little donkey down a four-lane highway, through Friday night traffic, to Bennie’s house in Bellflower. I am sure that was a sight to behold!
Donkeys are funny, stubborn little critters. This one was mostly ears, with brown and white hair and a constantly-swishing tail. He would bite if you gave him the chance and kick if you touched him anywhere south of his mid-section. He was also bad about balking. When he balked, nothing could make him move. But he was so small that you could get off and push him around to get him moving again.
The little donkey was not much, but Bennie and I gave him a great name—Sebastian Citation Man-O-War. We thought, with a name like that, though he was small and homely, he would at least have a great title. Sebastian lived for many years, carried innumerable kids on his back around the corral, served as a substitute calf for roping practice and was an all-around great pet.
Though he was a good donkey, Sebastian Citation Man-O-War never lived up to his name. It was a lot bigger than he was. If you stop to think about it, a name is more than a designated handle. Your name represents who you are. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth.” A good name, worn proudly, is valuable, while a bad name brings shame.
When I was growing up my dad would say, “Remember who you are.” He wanted me to honor the name we shared, by behaving properly, and not bringing reproach on our family. After seven decades of wearing my name, it is still important to honor it by my life. In truth, people judge your whole family by what they know of your life.
However, since coming to Christ, it is more important to honor my heavenly Father, as I also carry His name. If you are a Christian, you are to be Christ-like in attitudes and actions. Just as your physical body looks like your earthly father, your spiritual life should resemble your heavenly Father. Peter wrote, “As obedient children…like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:14-16).
In fact, Peter said it was God’s purpose for believers to follow Christ: “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Jesus died for us on the cross to save our souls, and to redeem our lives—“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (verse 24).
If you are a believer in Christ, you represent Him to people around you. The title “Christian” is a more than a name—it describes a person who is Christ-Like in life. And, as a follower of Christ you represent Him and your church, wherever you go. It is not about pride or ego—it is about honoring and obeying God and His Word in your life. It is about being a light shining in darkness. You can honor your Savior by living up to your name.
Jesus used the same reasoning when He reminded His disciples to celebrate things of true value instead of temporary achievement. They were rejoicing the fact that demons had been subject to His name, through their actions. Jesus sought to correct their thinking by saying, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
Your name inscribed in Heaven is more valuable than on any trophy, land title, or possession on earth, because Heaven is forever! Paul commended several Christian workers who had helped him, because their “names are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3). The Bible says that “only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” will be in the eternal heavenly city (Revelation 21:27), and that “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).
So, how can you be sure your name is written there? The difference between Heaven and Hell, eternal life and eternal death, comes down to believing and trusting in Christ as your personal Savior and Lord. After preaching about the saving power in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:10), Peter said, “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (verse 12). The words of Jesus sum it up best in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
It matters what you believe and how you live. What you believe determines how you behave. Your name is valuable. No matter where you are, remember who you are and whose you are!