Devotional Thought for This Morning
“God’s Concern for His Name”
“My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.”
Family honor should matter, but too much emphasis on this can result in something bizarre or even violent. For example, at a wedding ceremony of his son, the proud father (a pastor) abruptly announces a prayer huddle in front but just with his sons who bear his name, which excluded the bride. Standing all alone, the bride perhaps wonders whether it is too late to back out.
In some Islamic countries, brothers are willing to kill their sister if her behavior is deemed dishonorable. While we can agree that “a good name is more desirable than great riches” (Prov. 22:1), these guys are way too much.
God is also concerned about his name and He doesn’t like it when it is dishonored. One grievance against King David was the effect of his adultery with Bathsheba among the Canaanites: “Because by doing this you made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt” (2 Sam. 12:14). The grievance against the Israelites living abroad whose lives were undistinguishable from the Gentile sinners, despite “brag[ging] about [their] relationship to God” (Rom. 2:17), was no different: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Rom. 2:24).
Is the motivation behind protecting the family honor the same as God’s concern for upholding His name? Definitely no. The families are mostly concerned about how others view them, usually a self-flattering portrayal that others do not see. However, God’s concern for his name stems from His love for people among the nations. The Lord knows that the defamation of His name by those who claim to follow Him will prompt the nations to think that the God of the Bible is no different than the capricious, even immoral gods whom they grew up worshiping. Thus, they will neither seek nor believe God when He is finally presented to them. It’s their loss as well as God’s.
As you start this day, don’t just focus on you and your family, but think about the kingdom. Today, it snowed here. As I was shoveling snow out of the driveway, I decided to clear out some snow for my neighbor. They are not believers but they know we are. They thank me. I hope the name of our God was exalted just a little bit. Now, go and shovel some “snow” so that God’s name may be exalted.
Prayer: Glorious God, how great and excellent is your name. We exalt your name on high and the name of your Son Jesus, the only name through which we can go to the Father. Lord, I want to make your name great at the place where I live and work so that others may desire you and ultimately be found in Christ. Motivate me and empower me to do something today that would make your name to stand out. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 6
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Pet. 2:12, 15: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. . . . For this is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.”
Jeremiah 4:1-2: “If you, Israel, will return, then return to me,” declares the Lord. “If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray, 2 and if in a truthful, just and righteous way
you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ then the nations will be blessed by him and in him they will glory.”
Questions to Consider
- What is one main factor that causes us to be ineffective in serving God and furthering his kingdom?
- In what way did the failure of the Israelites to distinguish themselves among the nations hurt those very nations?
- What is the best way to distinguish ourselves from the world so that what we do gives further credence to the greatness of our God?
- We become co-opted by the values and practices of the secular world, thereby losing our Christian distinction; that is, our saltiness. As a result, we become good for nothing as far as representing God. In fact, we may become recipients of ridicule by the skeptics of the Christian faith.
- Israel’s wayward ways, in effect, blocked God’s channel of blessing for the nations since her undistinguishable life prompted the nations not to hold God in high regard. They thought, “Why bother seeking the God of Israel when these Israelites prefer our god and our ways?”
- Nothing is more powerful that leading a credible public life, backed by a corresponding private life, consisting of good and kind deeds performed “with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:15).
Did you have an opportunity to exalt God’s name today? Wrap up your day by briefly journaling what happened today. Pray for a more effective tomorrow.