The heart cry of the people of Babel was for their own name (Genesis 11:4). Their blueprints of a tower that reached to the heavens were titled, “The Tower of Babel: A Monument to How Great We Are.” But the destruction of their plans instead showed their weakness, confusion, and sin such that God made a name for himself.

The heart cry of David was for the name of God (2 Samuel 7). He saw his house of cedar, not as a monument to himself, but as a stinging reminder that the ark of God was in a tent, and therefore in David’s eyes God was not receiving the glory he deserved (7:2). God said, “Thanks, but not right now,” to David’s plans for building a house for him, but seeing David’s desire for the name of God, God told him, “I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.” And he would do it by establishing David’s throne forever and sending the Messiah through his line.

David’s response to God’s kindness reveals that his heart cry did not change – he still longed for the name of God to be exalted above his own:

“Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. Therefore you are great, O LORD God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods?” (2 Samuel 7:21-23 ESV)

So if we desire to make a name for ourselves, God will scatter us and exalt himself.

And if we desire to make a name for God, he will bless us and exalt himself.

But our desire should not change when he blesses, or we risk turning his making a name for us into a Babel-style idol to self.  Rather, we should see any name we have as an opportunity to speak of the greatness of God and make his name glorious in all the earth.

A few days ago my wife pointed out that we have been married with children longer than without – Elaine turned three yesterday, and our 6th wedding anniversary won’t be until September 1st. I have vague recollections of those days of virtually carefree living before children. For the first 3 months of our marriage I was the only one working, and at Starbucks for that matter. Our entire relationship had been long-distance, so we soaked in the time together. When Andrea began work in January, life got a little busier, and when I started Seminary in the fall, we learned to value our downtime together even more. Having a child wasn’t on our radar screen – how could we make time for that amidst our busy lives? We knew we wanted kids, but not until things slowed down. Then, amidst the start of my second year of schooling, we found out we were having a baby.

It’s funny how children define your life even before they are born. The budget finally became something to seriously stick to, and our once spacious apartment began to feel slightly cramped. Even our definition of what it meant for life to be busy was shattered.

Marriage and children are gifts from God and have probably been the greatest means of making me more like Christ, second only to Scripture. Joining my life with my wife’s was a tangible step in helping me see more clearly that the world doesn’t revolve around me, though my immature mind probably simply pulled her into the center of the universe with me. Sure, theologically and philosophically I would have said that all things are created for God’s glory, as are my wife and I, but more often than not I functionally placed myself and my wife (probably in that order) above the glory of God. Sadly, I’m still prey to the same trap. Having Elaine 3 years ago and Lena last August have both been strong pushes on my ego, sending it further from the center of the earth’s rotation.

The removal of me from the center, though, should not result in the placing of my wife or children there, causing me to simply focus on their wants or even needs. Surely I have a responsibility to provide for my family and seek their happiness, but allowing my life to be focused wholly on them is the wrong approach. My wife and children are gifts, and the danger with such immense gifts is to exalt them above the Giver. God has not blessed me with an amazing wife and two beautiful little girls so that I will exalt them, but so that I will exalt Him, the Giver of all good gifts. The point of God gracing me with such breathtaking gifts is not so I worship them, but so that I worship Him.

In fact, my family should point me toward the greatest gift: the gift of salvation through Jesus. All other gifts are the fruit of that priceless and completely undeserved gift, the greatest example of a gift that glorifies the Giver, not the totally unworthy recipient.