Martin Wiles

Dr. Martin Wiles

But I will reply, “I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.” Matthew 7:23 NLT

“You can’t remember my name, can you?”

Trying to remember the names of 80 middle school students is challenging. One student’s name challenged me to a deeper level. Why I had trouble remembering her name, I’m not sure. But when I looked at her, my mind went blank. She learned to recognize my stare, and one day asked me the above question. I wish I could say it only happened once, but it didn’t. She had a forgettable name.

When I left the school for a year, remembering students’ names got worse. Now I only saw them occasionally. At stores or in local restaurants. Often, I’d carry on as if I knew their name, then go home and consult my school yearbook.

I attribute my memory failure to age. Once I reached the 40 mark, names were the first thing that escaped me. Now at 58, other things have accumulated, but names are still at the top of the things I forget. Memory is just one of those things that typically languishes as age increases.

The context from which this verse is taken seems to say God has memory failure. On judgment day, some will come to Him and profess what wonderful things they have done in His name only to be told that He doesn’t know them. As if God can forget some who were once His children and confine them to everlasting darkness when they should go to heaven. Hardly.

God never forgets those He knows, but the "know" is more than a casual acquaintance. After all, God created everyone so obviously He knows us all. He even knows us before we’re born since He’s the reason we are born.

The knowing Jesus refers to has to do with intimacy. God only intimately knows those who enter a personal relationship with Him through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. All others, He only knows by name. The relationship is what causes Him to welcome the ones He knows into His eternal kingdom. Merely knowing a name won’t suffice.

Unlike me, once God knows my name intimately, He never forgets it. He’ll never forget I’m His child, He’ll never forget His promises to take care of my needs, and He’ll never forget He has an eternal home prepared for me.

If you’ve entered a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, take comfort. He’ll never forget your name.

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Martin Wiles is managing editor of Christian Devotions, assistant editor of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and author of Grits & Grace & God and Grits, Gumbo and Going to Church. His work is featured at www.lovelinesfromgod.com.


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