Monday, August 13, 2012

Jezebel, "A Boy Named Sue," and Jesus

“Jezebel to the front registers, please.” Multiple customers awaited checkout at the department store when I heard that announcement. My first thought after hearing her summoned: “Why would parents name their child Jezebel?"

            Queen Jezebel mentioned in scripture was an extremely over-the-top malicious woman. If Satan had a wife, she’d probably resemble this royal matron of the Bible. Because of the early evil associated with that name, I wondered why anyone would christen a newborn baby girl with that moniker. After pondering on the trials of receiving an infamous name, I thought why not redeem the name of a queen gone bad. Why not allow something good to rise from the ashes of evil.  

            All of a sudden, I admired the modern Jezebel for not insisting on a name change once she reached legal age. Maybe this current Jezebel’s parents hoped that she’d overcome any negatives from bearing the notorious name. Could Jezebel have been the name of a loving aunt, who had already added virtue to the name?

            That day as I walked to my car, I remembered the Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Named Sue.” He first performed it to a prison audience, the song more recitation than actual singing. Out of all of Cash’s recordings, “A Boy Named Sue” remained his biggest hit, because all have challenges from setbacks.

            Another name I never heard as a given name is “Friend.” Our trucking company sends paperwork through a Beaumont regional office each year. Generally, I mail information and money for apportioned tags, and don’t speak on the phone to office personnel. However, the few times I phoned to ask questions, a female clerk spoke with me and asked for additional information to be mailed. She instructed me to write, “Attention: Friend” on the envelope. I reasoned it was a code word.  

            One year, due to a looming deadline, I drove the paperwork to Beaumont, and I met Friend, her name plaque on her desk followed by her last name. Thrilled by her unique name, I was curious. I asked how she came by her name, and she said that “Friend” was her grandmother’s name. The clerk lived up to her ancestry through her good manners and kind help.

            A teacher matching names and faces in her new class of first-graders, asked one little boy, “What’s your name?”


            “Not Jule,” she said. “You shouldn’t use nicknames; I see your name is Julius.” Turning to the next boy, she asked him his name.

            “Billious,” he answered.

            You may have a name you love, tolerate, or despise, but the name itself doesn’t define you, no matter the name’s past history of good or bad. Your personality, nature, and behavior create your make-up. Moses the most humble man on the face of the earth grew into his title somewhere along his 120-year life. Others share Jesus’ name, but only our Savior has innate humility. Although superior, his humility allowed him to give up the sanctuary of heaven to live among us, demonstrating the fullness of God’s love.

            If asked to identify your main characteristic, what would a friend say? Would he or she say humility? As I thought through that question and considered my character, I had to take a deep sobering breath. Humble living takes hours of effort and a plentiful diet of humble pie.   

            Our names do not describe us. Our character does that. The little boy Sam Houston in the television series “Christy” called his given name his front name. This week’s challenge to all – seek to live humbly – give your front name a good reputation.     

            Hunger for Humility (32): “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” (Philippians 2:3)


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