Have you ever noticed how kids can be cruel at times by observing some trait of a kid and then naming him accordingly? For example, some kid wearing glasses gets “four-eyes”, a little rounder than most, “Fatso”, tall and lankie, “Stretch”, etc.

Nicknames are very common. What starts off as a bit of teasing can ‘stick’. Sometimes, most times, these nicknames begin to define who we are. They become titles worn around the neck. Loser, ratbag, idiot, no-hoper, mongrel, and a fair few unmentionables. A reputation begins to be built around a title.

It was as if we are captured by the title and it is hard to shake it off.

I’ve had several nicknames over the years, but one that was given to me was a wake-up call. At the time I was annoyed with it. What made it harder was that it was given to me by someone I really respected and honoured. My discipler, my spiritual father. He wanted me to recognise a trait that was not good within me and highlighted it through a nickname. Whenever I demonstrated this trait he would need only mention the nickname and it would pull me up in an instant! It still does to this day.

In this case, he was most wise in giving me that nickname because he knew me well enough that I would resist it at all cost whenever it was used and work to have it never mentioned again. My good friend gave me many nicknames that were positive and encouraging. He even has one specially reserve between him and me as best friends – it warms my heart when I hear him speak it. And I love him for them all.

The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
Daniel 1:7

These 4 young men were captured by a foreign king, Nebuchadnezzar, and selected to learn the new ways of this foreign conquerer.

The renaming was to cut them off from their heritage, beliefs and their God. Their original names were a constant reminder of their God: Daniel meant “God is my judge”, Hananiah means “The Lord shows Grace”, Mishael means “Who is what God is?” and Azariah means “The Lord helps”.

So the king had them renamed to Belteshazzar which means “Bel (Marduk) protect his life!”, Shadrach means “Command of Aku (Sumerian moon-god)”, Meshach means Who is what AKU is?”, Abednego means “Servant of Nego/Nebo (i.e Nabu)”.

As far as the four were concerned, these were their new nicknames. This is what was now meant to define them. But when we read the Book of Daniel, we see that it did not.

What are your nicknames?

Are they derogatory or defining for you?

Are they good, or bad?

Maybe some of them need to be ‘rewritten’ so as not to define you in such a way. Maybe you need God to help redefine who you are in His sight and not in the sight of those who would prefer to tear you down or hurt you. Do you want to know who you are from God’s perspective?