“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 (ESV)
That passage from the Book of Exodus is one of the Ten Commandments. Lots of people understand it to be something like a warning against bad language. It is that, but it is also a good deal more.
Suppose someone were to abuse your good name. What would that mean? What we would be talking about in that case is your reputation.
It is exactly the same in that Commandment, only more importantly – we’re talking about God’s reputation. In other words, how is God viewed by the people around us? If they don’t know Him personally, the only thing they have to go on is His reputation. And His reputation depends on what those who do know Him say about Him.
If we who know Him speak of Him with honoring language, that is the reputation He will have among those who don’t know Him. If we are constantly damning people in His name that is how others will come to see Him. If we attribute behaviors to Him He doesn’t have that is how others will come to see Him.
It isn’t just what we say. It’s also what we do. Our actions also define God’s reputation. If we who know God are also liars and cheaters, others will view God as weak and ineffectual. They might think, “Why should I believe in a god who is too weak to do anything about the hypocrites who follow him?” Or they might think, “God can’t be real or He would do something about all those two-faced hypocrites. Wouldn’t He?”
God’s reputation is important and He is willing and able to defend it, but our speech and behavior are up to us. However, He goes on to say in that commandment that we will be blamed if His reputation suffers because of our behavior.
How do you portray God to others? When people know you are a Christian, they will be watching you and listening to you. They aren’t just judging you. They are also making up their minds about His reputation.
Are you okay or do you need to make some changes?
Ultimately we each stand alone before God and each of our styles of private worship is unique. That concept is developed and expanded in the book “Worshiping Alone” available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. If you haven’t read it, please consider doing so.
Copyright © 2022 Sam Dronebarger
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