Names can bless or curse
Our names are significant, because they reflect our parents’ thoughts about and desires for us. Out of their hearts, they can unintentionally speak a blessing or a curse over us.
Luke 6:45 ESV The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Our names have consequences
A parent’s words and wishes over a child, whether spoken or unspoken, intended or unintended, will have a powerful impact on his or her life. The Bible tells us that a good name brings favour and is better than great riches. This implies that a poorly chosen name can bring misfortune.
Proverbs 22:1 ESV A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.
The choice of our names matter
1. Biblical evidence: Our lives are influenced by our names
Jabez knew the impact of our names because his mother gave him a name that meant “pain”. It must have been painful being called such a name every day. Fortunately, Jabez lived an honourable life and called out to his Heavenly Father to be released from the influence of his name on his life. God answered Jabez’s prayer to reverse his mother’s curse on him and free him from pain.
1 Chronicles 4:9-10 ESV Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.
2. Scientific evidence: Our lives are influenced by our names
Various scientific studies have proven the impact of a person’s name on many areas of life. Research suggests that our names “can influence our choice of profession, where we live, whom we marry, the grades we earn, the stocks we invest in, whether we’re accepted to a school or are hired for a particular job, and the quality of our work in a group setting”, according to The New Yorker. “Much of the apparent influence of names on behavior has been attributed to what’s known as the implicit-egotism effect: we are generally drawn to the things and people that most resemble us. Because we value and identify with our own names, and initials, the logic goes, we prefer things that have something in common with them.”
3. Practical evidence: Our lives are influenced by our names
Among those referenced for this blog are Christians who were all released into a greater sense of peace and joy after they acknowledged the ungodly associations with their names and dedicated their futures to God in prayer – similar to what Jabez did in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10.
One person said, “I prayed to renounce the association of my name to witchcraft through the fengshui master, cut off spiritual ties with him, and rededicated my name to God’s original intention for my life. I truly feel so much more joyful now.“
Another said, “My parents chose a Chinese name for my older brother that means “light” and named me “shadow” because I was born after him in his shadow. From young, I have always felt unloved and unwanted. After the Holy Spirit revealed the curse of my name, I asked God to remove it from my life. Now, I feel released to live my life to the fullest and no longer in the shadows.“
A third person said, “My maternal grandmother’s parents gave her a name that meant “I’m not here” because they wanted a boy, instead of a girl. Grandma was always depressed and this greatly affected my mother when she was growing up. I am the eldest girl in my family and somehow, this depression passed on to me too. I am so glad I can cut the generational curse from my grandmother’s cursed name in Jesus’ name and rededicate my name and future to God.“
A fourth person said, “My Chinese name means “wisdom” and “noble”. Similarly, I have always prided myself in my own wisdom and ability to analyse everything, until someone pointed out to me that this has blocked me from having simple faith in God. I realised that I had not given God my heart and repented.”
Asking God to reverse the curses from our names
Thankfully, Jesus’ name is more powerful than anything in this universe. In His name, we can break any curse that has come upon ourselves.
Philippians 2:9-10 ESV Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
1. Confess any ungodly connections to our names
To start, we can pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal if there’s anything ungodly related to the names we were given. If there is, let us confess to God that we no longer want those connections. For instance, we may have been given names that were:
- Of people who were murdered, cursed or responsible for perpetuating evil.
- Dedicated to idols.
- Displayed in temples or ancestral village plaques.
- Chosen as a result of “good luck” rituals or advice from fengshui masters, mediums, fortune tellers or other sorcerers.
- Representative of our parents’ desire for a child of the opposite sex.
- Given as a result of baby baptisms or other religious rituals.
- Representative of mythical beings or animals.
2. Break spiritual ties
We ought to cut off ungodly soul ties with those who helped choose our names based on ungodly desires, superstitions or witchcraft. Then we can declare that we break their influence on our lives in Jesus’ name. This should include fortune tellers, mediums, heads of clans or good luck manuals.
2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
3. Call on God’s favour
Finally, we can dedicate our names and lives solely to God’s direction and desires. The Holy Spirit will guide us in renewing our views of our destinies and names in light of God’s grace and love.
4. Consider a new name
One additional option we may consider is to change our names, if we feel convicted by the Holy Spirit to do so. In Genesis, we see the story of Jacob, whose name means “one who follows on another’s heels; supplanter” because he was born holding his twin brother Esau’s heel. True to his name, Jacob undermined Esau and stole the blessings meant for the firstborn son twice. To set his path in another direction, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, which means “God contended”.
Genesis 32:28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
Changing our name is of course, not a decision one makes lightly.
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