Active Faith

“Hallowed Be Your Name​” —Honor Your Heavenly Father

“For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit’ ” (Isaiah 57:15). by Alan J. Gonzalez

There is a whole discipline of linguistics devoted to studying the origin and meaning of names. It is called “onomastic” or “onomatology.” In many cultures in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, personal names tend to have a meaning that reveals information about the individual’s family or ethnic roots. Among Westerners, the meaning of names is not quite as relevant. We tend to choose a particular name because it is popular or unique, or because we like the way it sounds. Still, many people in Europe and North and South America are named in honor of a family member or a celebrity or as an act of devotion to a religious figure. 

In the Bible, every name has a meaning. God used names to reveal His purposes and intentions for an individual, a nation, and even the whole of humanity. God changed Abram’s name, which means “exalted father,” to Abraham—“father of a multitude.” These days, the names of important people can call to mind an immediate association, even if the name itself may not carry any significant meaning. For example, when someone mentions Mark Zuckerberg, we immediately think of Facebook. Elvis Presley is synonymous with rock and roll; Muhammad Ali with boxing; Babe Ruth with baseball. Pelé makes us think of soccer; Mother Teresa of charity; Adolf Hitler of genocide, and so on.

The Bible says that the name of God is “glorious and awesome” (Deuteronomy 28:58). When it is spoken, it evokes a range of thoughts and emotions: awe and wonder, love, fear, confusion, perhaps even anger. After all, human beings cannot fully know God. He is“the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords … who alone is immortal and lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever” (1 Timothy 6:15–16). “To him be honor and might forever,” Paul wrote. That’s part of what Jesus was saying when He taught His disciples to pray, “hallowed be your name.” In fact, some modern versions of the New Testament offer different translations of this line in Matthew 6:9: “May your name be honored.” (NET) “Help us to honor your name” (CEV).

We must give to God’s name the homage and honor it deserves. If we are to expect mercy and blessing from our heavenly Father, we must first recognize His greatness and His goodness.

Our God is great. He is exalted and deserves humble reverence. “For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit’ ” (Isaiah 57:15).

Every purpose of God is good from the moment He conceives it; therefore, we must be careful not to associate His name with evil. People often blame God for tragic situations or events that are the result of human irresponsibility or malice. There are also those who invoke the name of God to try to harm others or to practice occult rituals, which God forbids emphatically.

It is likely that many prayers vanish like steam in the air due to God’s name being used wrongly. He is jealous of His person, and for a human creature to have the audacity and disrespect to use His name carelessly is a serious offense. When we say the word “God,” we should think about how small we are and how big He is.

Read the Spanish version.

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