Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

17. Take the Name but not in Vain – Part 3

Exodus 20:7
“You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.”
As we continue to think about being Christ’s ambassadors, we are reminded of the high calling to represent Him well. It is important that we remember that we are not just a witness to a watching world with our lips but also with our lifestyle. The way people will feel about God may largely come from the way we represent Him to the world! As Brennan Manning said, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable” How you care for His name will determine how you carry His name. As we think about our walk we are reminded of our:
A. Lifestyle
God’s name can be taken in vain even when His name is not mentioned. Hypocrisy breaks the third commandment and gives God’s name a bad reputation. We profane the name of the Lord when our practice doesn’t match our profession. Jesus had some pretty harsh words for hypocrites in Mark 7:6, Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Claiming to be a Christian and not living like one is a dangerous deal. Here are a few ways that we end up being pretenders instead of proclaimers:
• When we live in conflict with another Christian and refuse to follow Biblical peacemaking to resolve it.
• When we have a cold spirit or a hard heart toward God.
• When we don’t give God our time, talents and treasures.
• When we allow a root of bitterness toward God and others to take hold.
We are not called to be casual Christians who worship on the weekend and do what we want during the week. The name Christian means “little Christ” or “Christlike Ones” We are His representatives to a watching world. You are the keepers of God’s reputation in this community, in this country, and on every continent. Let’s go back to the idea of God’s name being trademarked property. We could say that He has licensed the use of His name to those who will use it reverently. God retains legal control over His name and threatens serious penalties against the unauthorized misuse of His name. One of the most chilling verses in this regard is found in Romans 2:20-24: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Instead we should lead a lifestyle of love. A while back a good friend of mine shared this story with me. “I met a man who claimed to be a Christian but something happened that caused him to question God and his salvation. He walked away from God and even defamed my character. I kept loving him, praying for him and helping him anyway I could. Last year his parents were killed in a car crash I reached out to him and told him I was praying for him. Earlier this month I received a very long heartfelt apology I told him I had already forgiven him and so would Jesus. He shared with me about how he has come back to Christ and His church.” Is your life driving people away from Jesus or drawing them to Him? Not only does our walk make an incredible impact on our witness but so do our words. That’s why our lifestyle, what we do should be backed up by what we say, our:
B. Lips
Do your lips reflect the Lord or reject the Lord? Here are a few ways that our lips can offend the Lord
1. Outright Blasphemy. Merriam-Webster says this is: “the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God.” Isaiah 52:5: “And all day long my name is constantly blasphemed.”
2. Common Cursing. When we tell someone to go to hell, we’re sending them to a place that they’ll never get out of. Why would we ever want to call down divine damnation on anyone? Isn’t it our job to share the good news of Jesus Christ so that they won’t be damned? We see this in Luke 9:51-56 where when things didn’t go the way the disciples wanted, they desired to waste people. Christians shouldn’t get caught up in cursing people they should get caught up in caring for people.
3. Pointless prayers – These are prayers that don’t line up with the Will of God. If we are not careful, we will try to use prayer to get God to give us what we want instead of discovering and doing His Will. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He started with these Words in Matthew 6, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” His words reveal a reverence for God’s name. Hallowed means Holy, it’s what Moses encountered at the burning bush, as he was instructed to remove his sandals for the place, he was standing on was holy ground. Prayer brings us into God’s presence, and as Isaiah describes God’s presence, he talks about Him being high and exalted and the seraphim saying “holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” How easy it is for us to rush into God’s presence with some urgent concern and presumptuously demand how and when God should deal with it. This is reckless prayer not reverent prayer. Hallowing God’s name adjusts our attitude so that our focus is on the Almighty and His Will not our wants. We must not only pray that His name is holy, we must practice it because when we practice it, we preach it and therefore properly represent God to the world.

4. Careless Conversation. Some of us aren’t technically swearing or cussing but our conversations don’t honor God and bless others. Ephesians 4:29 says: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” While our talk may not be unwholesome, we need to ask is it healthy? Because while our words may not be belittling others what good are, they if they are not building them up?
5. Singing Songs. It’s very easy when we sing to mouth the words and fail to realize that we may have just declared our willingness to do whatever God wants. It has been said that Christians don’t tell lies, they just sing them in their songs.” Be careful about sinning when you’re singing.
6. Gossip – When we use our lips to talk about others instead of using our lives to love them. Don’t talk about others talk to them. A gossip is just a fool with a keen sense of rumor
7. Giving God Credit for Our Own Ideas. While I’m not discounting that God guides His people and reveals things to us, we need to be careful about declaring definitively, “God told me…” or “God led me…” unless we are absolutely sure.
8. Shortcuts and Abbreviations. OMG is a shortened way to take God’s name in vain. Do your texts, tweets and posts proclaim or defame His name?
9. Christian Clichés. Some of us love to say, “Praise the Lord” but we don’t really mean it. Or “I’m praying for you” when I really haven’t been. Those are lying lips not loving lips.
Are you declaring or desecrating His name with your lips and your lifestyle? Because what you revere you will not only respect but reflect.