The Power to Name/Label
I pause from my normal format this morning because I am led to share about something I saw on a documentary some time back. I was flipping through the channels and I came across a documentary on gang violence in a certain country. I only watched for a few minutes but I kept thinking about some of the things I heard. The documentary was filmed many years ago when the violence between the Crips and the Bloods (two popular gangs in that area) was still very high.
The director focused in on one individual who was formerly a high ranking member of the Crips. This man was clearly in his 30s and he was adamant about stopping the perpetual cycle of violence. What is interesting and what I focused in on was some of the ways that he suggested we could stop the cycle. He said, “If we don’t do anything else, we must stop labelling our kids after us. Don’t call them ‘Little Bone’ or ‘Little Ice’ or ‘Little Killer.’  If we name them after us then we label them and we put them in a box. It is as if we are forcing them to grow up and do what we did. No! This must stop. Call them by their given first and last names. That is the first step in stopping the cycle.”  I thought this was very insightful because the power to name or the power to label is the power to define. This is part of the message that comes out of our mouths towards our children. When God wanted to change Abram’s life the first thing He did was to get him away from his family and his old environment. God knew that the pressure to back to his old self would be too strong if he stayed in his old environment. After God got Abram in a new environment and established a relationship with him, God changed his name from Abram to Abraham. The name Abraham means, “Father of many nations” and that is what God desired for Abram to become, so He named him that. Isaac had a son named Jacob. The name Jacob means, “Conniver.” And guess what? Jacob lived up to his name. He was a conniving and mischievous character. God wanted to use him to give birth to the 12 tribes that would lay the foundation for his people so God changed his name from Jacob to Israel, which means, “the prince that prevails with God.” Guess what? He became what God named him. And there are other biblical examples of name changes and the significance of names.
The ex-gang banger in the documentary also said that the way that they dealt with killing people was to not look at them as people. If a Crip wanted to kill a Blood they would say, “I am going to get me a Slug.” If a Blood wanted to kill a Crip they would say, “I am going to get me a Crab.” This way they looked at each other as objects and not as people. The ex-gang banger said, “I could not look at them as a human, because I would then know that it would be murder.” Do you realize how insightful that is? He was basically saying that we approach things/people by the way that we perceive them. Our perception of things/people is greatly impacted by the way that we call (or name) them. I know this is not one of my normal messages, but I really felt led to share about this because I believe it shows the connection between our words and our actions. Especially in the area of labelling or naming people/things. 
So what does this mean to you today? It means that we must be careful what we call our children and spouses. This can be a positive or a negative thing. Let’s use our words and the power to name/label for the good of our children and all those we come in contact with. There is a message in your mouth. Use it to build up and not tear down!
Confession for this day: Lord God, I use my words for Your glory. I realize the power my words have in my life and in the lives of my family members. I will not call them something I do not want them to become. I will speak life and not death and I expect to eventually see what I say. I build up my family with the message that’s in mouth.
In Jesus’ name.

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