By Alan Smith
The following article was in the news a few years ago:
HANOI, Vietnam - After nearly two decades of ridicule, a father has
agreed to change his son's name from "Fined Six Thousand and Five
Hundred" -- the amount he was forced to pay in local currency for
ignoring Vietnam's two-child policy.
Angry he was being fined for having a fifth child, Mai Xuan Can
named his son Mai Phat Sau Nghin Ruoi after the amount he was forced to
pay -- 6,500 dong (50 cents). In 1999, local government officials tried
to persuade Can to change the name because the boy was constantly being
teased by classmates at school. But Can, a former People's Committee
official, refused to back down, Thuong said. They appealed to him again
recently, and this time it worked.
"I told him that as his son is growing up, he should have another
name -- not that weird name -- and he finally agreed," Thuong said.
The son, now 19, finally got a new name: Mai Hoang Long, which means golden dragon.
Choosing a name is an important responsibility. Those of us who are
parents can remember spending hours and hours reading books filled with
baby names, discussing this name and that before deciding on just the
right name. Even after much forethought, one of my children was named
at birth and re-named a couple of hours later because the first name
just didn't seem to fit her.
Not surprisingly, names in the Bible are regarded as important.
Names that were chosen may tell us something about the child or his
birth (Isaac -- "laughter", Benjamin -- "son of the right hand", Esau --
"hairy"). Some names were changed to signal a drastic change in one's
life (Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Saul to Paul).
A name is important because it's not just a word -- it's who you
are. Your name is your character, the essence of who you are and what
you stand for.
You may not be able to change your given name (at least, not without
a lot of expense and trouble), but you can change what people think
about when they hear that name. That's why Solomon wrote:
"A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches." (Prov. 22:1a)
You are choosing your name by how you live. Choose wisely.
- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister
for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org