From Rebuke to Blessing

“Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)

“Open rebuke is better than secret love.” (Proverbs 27:5)

I’m getting a little fed up with people who incessantly want to use God’s name in a vain (useless) manner. I think something of God’s courage, and a desire to uphold God’s honor and dignity, is rising up within me. I’m just plain getting fed up. Like the man with whom I was on the phone the other day. He is a colleage of mine. He is such a nice man in many respects. He has many positive characteristics. He is created in God’s image, with worth, and worthy of dignity of respect. The problem is, the same dignity and respect that he is worth he is not showing towards others. And I find that offensive! He is blaspheming his Creator. Perhaps he does not know he is doing it. That’s what my job is all about. I am God’s spokesperson. I am to “remind him” that what he is doing is not right!

“Excuse me, but could you please not use God’s name in vain?” is all it takes. Or, if you fear that the person may not understand that wording, you can always say, “Excuse me, but could you please not use God’s name in a useless way? I would really appreciate that.” No sermonizing. No big deal. But don’t just sit by and let it happen! It is wrong to throw around God’s name like a tossed salad. We need to stand up and do something about it, do we not? We can. We should. We must! If we don’t … who will? We are called to be “salt” in society — a preserving influence. Jesus said, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” (Matthew 5:13) That is, you have influence. Use it, or lose it!

Echoing the prayer of the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah chapter 6, perhaps you have prayed the following prayer, “Here I am, Lord, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8) Now is your time. Now is your day. If you really meant that prayer when you prayed it, now is the time to stand up and prove that what you meant were not just idle words. God needs you today to do just that. No one said it was going to be easy. No one said it was going to be without persecution. But effective? Yes, it will be effective. Why, not long ago, I was faced with the situation where my co-worker (we’ll call him Dilan) was blaspheming the Lord. I said to him, “Could you please not do that, Dilan?” He said, “Do what?” I said, “Use God’s name in a useless manner.” He said, “Oh, did I do that? Are you really sure it was me?” Dilan didn’t even realize it. That was “just” his way of speaking. He had adopted it and thought nothing of it.

However, when I opened up the conversation like that, guess what happened? I was able to share my personal salvation testimony with Dilan! There was a distinct sense of “glory” in the air. God was with me, and was filling my mouth with good things, because I was willing to stand up for what was right! Also, because I was not “overbearing” when I said, “Could you please not use God’s name in vain,” and because there was a (small, but important) previous relationship built up between us before I said it, there was an effective opening created to share the gospel — rather than the other way around (Dilan being totally turned off).

In all of this, I am saying, “Take a stand for what is right. But do so in a way which reflects the love of Christ. Be wise and choose your target carefully. Some will be open, and some others will not. But don’t fear rejection when you rebuke (as is common). Decide to take a stand for what is right, and leave the outcome to God. Back everything up by prayer, and conviction, and a resolve to obey God, rather than obey man. Be open to learning in the process. You will find God filling your mouth with words that, perhaps, you had not intended — ones that are right for the moment and have an impact in that person’s life.

“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38)

“… open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:10b)

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20)