“No matter how false names may have tried to own you, you belong to the One who has named you—the One who has sung the song of your name across time, space, and history. Listen to his voice, and live.” – Aubrey Sampson, pastor and author of Known: How Believing Who God Says You Are Changes Everything
The power that brought the swirling stars, the dazzling snow, the summer sunrises, and the entire cosmos into existence; the power that put on flesh, bore a cross, and conquered death and evil—that same power breathed a name from the breadth of his unending love for you. It is your first name and your truest name:
This name has existed for a long time. Long before the Fall, long before God gave Adam and Eve a tour of their little garden paradise, long before God commissioned them to cultivate the land, or engineer their city, or govern anything— before they did anything meaningful or noteworthy— God spoke a blessing of goodness over them, simply because they existed. “You are very good!” God cried out as both a proclamation and a heartfelt response (Genesis 1:31, author’s paraphrase).
New Testament scholar and author Scot McKnight writes that “God’s glory echoes through all creation: tov me’od. Very good! Very well done! Perfect! Harmony! What a masterpiece!” McKnight adds, “All these English terms, and more, are found in the word tov.”2
Over Adam and Eve (and over you, as well), God declares with divine delight, affection, and approval,
“You are very good!”
And it’s not a stretch to assume that “beloved,” agapētos in Greek— a term that means special, dear, object of special affection, worthy of love 3— is also contained in the Hebrew word tov. In fact, in some Bible translations, both terms, very good and beloved, are similarly defined as “precious.”4
Which makes sense— these are, after all, statements about the innate value and pleasure that God has for you and feels for you.
It’s as if, at the emergence of the created order, God made an announcement about you, a broadcast loud for the entire solar system to hear; God named you with enough force to reach through time and space:
You are very good, my beloved! My beloved, you are very good!
Ephesians chapter 1 echoes this theme, proclaiming that God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world, “that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love . . . according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:4-6, ASV).
In other words, even before that grand announcement, before the foundations of the earth were ever spoken into existence, God was already calling you Beloved, through his beloved son, Jesus.
So, when we hear God calling Adam and Eve “very good,” we understand that he was simultaneously calling them his dearly loved ones, his beloved children. And what we discover, remarkably, is this:
In God’s economy, there is no “because” in Beloved. There is no dangling carrot in Beloved. There is no “if you reach your potential” in Beloved.
Though we know that sin will enter the Garden picture and change the narrative, we still need to begin here: with our first name, Beloved.
God’s great love for you simply and profoundly is, because God is, simply and profoundly, love. God loves you and speaks goodness and delight over you not because you have earned it or achieved it.
Because you exist, you are worthy of love.
The power that brought the swirling stars, the dazzling snow, the summer sunrises, and the entire cosmos into existence; the power that put on flesh, bore a cross, and conquered death and evil—t hat same power breathed a name from the breadth of his unending love for you. It is your first name and your truest name: Beloved.
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