Word # 3: A Good Name!
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)
It’s not about you. It’s all about God and especially His name, His reputation, His honour.
The literal translation of this third Word is, “Do not carry the name of the Lord your God in a worthless way.” When we call ourselves Christians, we are carrying the name of Christ (and God) into everyday life. Are the choices we make lifting God’s name, His reputation? Are the choices we make honouring God and who He is? When people see the way we live and the decisions we take, can they relate this to the God we serve?
We violate this Word when we lie, steal and cheat. When we consider money more important than people, whom God has created, we violate this Word.
I remember visiting an evangelistic lunch at Schiphol airport, organized by our association of Christians in Business. The main speaker was to be the vp of McDonnel Douglas, the aircraft manufacturer. Members could only participate if they brought a guest with them, so I invited a business friend. He was not a believer. Entering the dining room, he looked around, as businesspeople do, looking for people to network with. He saw another member of our association whom he knew. He said to me, “If he is a Christian, then I’m not interested.” Later he explained that the businessman he referred to, had a very bad reputation in his marketplace and was known for not paying his bills on time, and often not at all. I learned as a young Christian businessman that paying your bills on time strengthens your reputation and name, whilst not paying on time, can destroy your hard-earned reputation very quickly. As a Christian it can be a powerful testimony to God’s work in our lives, or it can destroy your testimony.
Is your lifestyle commensurate with a Christian lifestyle? But what is a Christian lifestyle? You need to look no further than the 7 cardinal virtues. Of course, we all recognize the first three - Faith (belief in the right things,) hope (taking a positive future view, that good will prevail,) and love (concern for, and actively helping others.) The next four are particularly helpful in making the right choices and upholding the Name of the Lord which we carry into our daily lives.
Fortitude (persevering in tough times,) Justice (being fair and equitable with others,) Prudence (spending our money wisely) and lastly, but often forgotten, Temperance (the moderation of needed things and abstinence from things which are not needed.
I believe that a key financial indicator can be found in the word, “Enough.” We should learn to limit our lifestyle, to maintain a low eco-footprint, limit waste, and be content. The way of the world is ‘more and more.’ God’s way is enough and contentment. Limiting our expenditure on lifestyle choices, allows us to build a surplus with which we can be more generous and share our resources. It has been said that, “You are never more like Jesus, than when you are giving!”
“What’s in a name?” wrote William Shakespeare. A name is so much more than words to recognize a person. Our name marks us and identifies us. Over time, as people get to know us, our name embodies who we are. God has many names. One of my favourite names for God is “Jehovah Jireh”, meaning ‘The God Who Provides.’ When making our choices, we can count on the name of the Lord, Jehovah Jireh, to provide all we need to do everything he is asking us to do. I fact, if I know that God wants me to do something and I say, “I cannot afford it,” then I am taking His name in vain. He promised to provide – so we can cry out with Paul, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus!” (Philippians 4:19)
We are living right now in very difficult circumstances. People are losing their jobs; businesses are failing, and money is tight. Whatever the circumstance we may find ourselves in, we can trust in the name of the Lord who is called “El-Sahaddai” – the Almighty! He is in control of all circumstances and does not allow anything to happen to His children without His permission. In tough times, Jesus is with us and suffering alongside those who suffer. He lifts up and takes down; He gives and takes away. He is the Sovereign Lord. Trusting in the name of God in troubling times is maintaining His honour, reputation, His dignity and name.
Remember, Jesus called God “Abba, Father.” He goes on to say, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
His provision is wonderful!
Next week: Word # 4: “Keep the Sabbath holy."
... to be continued ...