During my first year as a Christian, I found my name in a book that gave the meaning of common names. “Michael” means “who is like God.” For several years, I thought it meant, “Michael, (comma) who is like God.” In other words, “Michael, the person who is like God more than anyone else because he was obviously named for his uncanny resemblance to the Almighty.”
Then one day, in a blinding flash of the obvious, I realized I had my punctuation all wrong. I should have understood my name to mean “WHO is like God? (question mark)” (The answer being, of course, no one.)
I often laugh at myself for my mistake, but it’s actually a good representation of the changes God has been working in my heart. During my first years as a Christian, it was still all about me. I wanted recognition and praise for the changes toward godliness that I was making in my life. By selectively comparing myself to those around me (at least those against whom I compared well), I thought I was setting new records for spiritual growth.
More recently, however, I’ve become more and more conscious of how little I can actually accomplish in my struggle for sanctification when I try to do it in my own power. And while I have made significant changes over the years (with His help), I know better today that no one even approaches God in the magnitude of His greatness, His goodness, His mercy, His justice, His patience… or any other category.
So, I’m content for my name to have nothing to do with me at all – to be more a testimony to the incomparable God. But maybe it can also mean, “Michael, who is a little more like God every day by His grace.”
“He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30)