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Covid-19 Devotionals

Names

We have a young lady (teenager) in our church whose name is Tabitha. This is a Biblical name and has another name coupled to it.

Ac 9:36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor.

The name Dorcas is a Greek translation of the Aramaic name Tabitha, meaning “antelope or gazelle”. One species of gazelle is now known as the dorcas gazelle. The gazelle is a beautiful animal and admired by many in the East. In the New Testament times, people would tell a beautiful woman that she has the eyes of an antelope or gazelle. Many girls were named after animals who were noted for their beauty. It would seem that her name’s meaning was extended to her Gospel service … “always doing good and helping the poor”.

Last night, Jenny, a friend and I were chatting about names. Some people like short names so that you can’t abbreviate them. Others have lengthy names that are never used. Some feel you need to use the given name without abbreviation and others don’t mind if their names are altered. My name is Donald. My dad, mom and sister used it (my sister still does at times) … but since I met Jen (Jenny – Jennifer) when I was 16, she and her family called me Don and that has stuck.

Interestingly, our friend said her grandson without coercion called her husband “Gramps” and that stuck. Our one grandson, Nathan, could not pronounce “L” when he was small. He heard Jenny calling me “Lovey”, so he started calling me “Wuvie” and that has stuck.

I started work at the age of 15 years and 4 months. The elderly gentleman who took our overhauls to the cleaners never got my surname right. One week it was Greenwood, another Yellowwood … but never Kirkwood. When I managed an Electrical Mechanical Wholesale Business on the West Coast, I was given the Xhosa name for gas bottle. In Afrikaans (that was the dominant language there) it was “gas kannetjie” because I discounted LP gas at good prices. Personally, I don’t mind what I’m called. To me, a name is a name … yet in saying that, I understand and respect those who require the full birth name to be used. Read the whole passage and message about Tabitha in Acts 9. She was an intentional Christian. Who she was is displayed in what she did!

Ac 9:36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor.

The term “Christians” simply means people who follow the Lord Jesus and emulate him in character and personality. He was always doing good and helping the poor … and Tabitha shows us she followed her Lord sincerely. Now look at this:

Ac 11:25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

See that? Followers of Jesus … His disciples were first called (known) as Christians in Antioch. Today the name “Christian” could mean different things to different people. Mostly people look at the behaviour and morality of pastors or congregants (sometimes this is extremely despicable … you have seen all the write ups) and gauge it with what is taught or with what the Bible says. This is a reason that some people don’t want to be called or known as Christian. They prefer disciple, follower, servant, etc. This is a great pity because Christian implies all those things and identifies one with “Christ”.

People also often label themselves as Christian because of a religious classification. When I was conscripted into the then Defense Force as a teenager I was bracketed religiously as a Christian … but I was not born again. Christianised, but not Christian. Because a person has been baptized as an infant, confirmed as a teen and taken membership of a church as an adult, such are often classed as being Christian. So one is bracketed as a Christian on a church’s membership roll but in the register of heaven the name cannot be found until (if ever) the person is born again … until the person becomes regenerate as the Holy Spirit applies the merits of Jesus’ blood sacrifice to that person’s account.

Now this is where the great problem arises … that person who is Christian in name only represents the Christian Church … and should he or she land up in court for theft, money laundering, fraud, murder, and the list is endless … or be accused of some form of sexual immorality, drunkenness, wife or children abuse, fighting, bad language (swearing) … the community sees him or her representing Christianity … and this causes the “Name” to be associated with so much wrong (sin – wickedness).

The tragedy is that we cannot get out of either of these … we cannot let go of the name Christian because it’s Biblical … and … we cannot stop people who are not Christians from aligning themselves with Christianity because, after all, they say … “I’m a member of a church”. But there is something we can do. We who are His people … born again, can demonstrate what we are by being like Tabitha … “always doing good and helping the poor”. The “doing good” needs to be unpacked in a few ways.

The first thing one does that is good is to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ! Then doing good means not doing sin. You are so aware that sin is easy to avoid in public and harder in private … and here lies our real challenge … but doing good means to avoid doing evil! Doing good also means serving the Body of Christ … and there are many ways we can do this. It does not need to be at church and seen. Such doing good as in service ought to happen mostly in private … even unseen! Tabitha also helped the poor. I am not referring to those who kneel at traffic lights and stops streets with a board around their necks. Rather I mean helping those struggling economically in the church and in the neighbourhood. We who are true believers can “redeem” the name Christian through being intentional wherever we are to be found. Carry the name Christian proudly!

Dear Lord God Almighty, help me to carry the name “Christian” proudly, whether I am at home, work, out shopping, chatting to the neighbours, driving my vehicle and in private. May my speech reflect something of Your holiness. Daily through Your Word, transform my mind so that I will think Gospel to behave Gospel. Amen.

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