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That Worthy Name

 

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;--
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title:--Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

 

Those famous lines from Shakespeareís play Romeo and Juliet are instantly recognized by most people who can recite all or part of them by heart. The story portrays the two lovers whose relationship is doomed from the start because they are from two different warring families, the Montagueís and the Capuletís. Many of us know the lines but few take time to analyze the meanings behind the words.

Just what is in a name? Juliet answers her own question, "that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." In many respects, thatís true. Simply because a certain word is used to describe a thing doesnít, in itself, change the attributes of the thing. Juliet, however, sees the issue only on the surface when she says, "Tis but thy name that is my enemy." She adjures Romeo to "deny thy father and refuse thy name" when, in effect, it is the behavior behind the name that is the heart of the matter. The two different family names were not the problem in and of themselves. It was the evil deeds of the individuals composing both families that built the reputations by which the family names were known.

 

A Good Reputation

Solomon knew a lot about oneís deeds and actions affecting the reputation by which someone is known. In Proverbs 22:1, he spoke of the great value of a good name.

(Prov 22:1 KJV) A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.

Again in Ecclesiastes 7:1, Solomon the preacher spoke of the desirability of a good name.

(Eccl 7:1 KJV) A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.

What Solomon spoke of as a "good name" we know today as the term "good reputation." Websterís New World Dictionary defines the word reputation as: estimation in which a person or thing is commonly held, whether favorable or not; oneís character in the view of the public or community. Thatís in line with our general understanding of the word today: in the case of an individual, it is the set of traits by which one is known by others to commonly behave. It is oneís character, the rules or restraints by which one frames his or her life to develop a pattern of behavior and the consistency by which he becomes known.

The Bible is full of examples of people who developed recognizable reputations for both good and evil behaviors. Weíve already seen from Solomonís writings that, in the eyes of God, it is much more desirable to develop a good name and become known for patterns of behavior framed by Godís righteousness. Even God has a reputation which we see in Psalms 9:16.

(Psa 9:16 KJV) The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.

As God is known for the righteousness of the judgment he executes and the wicked is known by the evil works of his own hands, we can also see in Ecclesiastes 5:3 that the fool is known by something else.

(Eccl 5:3 KJV) For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words.

In Proverbs 20:11, Solomon knew that deeds were the markings by which a reputation is developed and that begins while still a child.

(Prov 20:11 KJV) Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.

In Matthew 12:33, Christ compared the display of oneís character to the fruit born by a tree.

(Mat 12:33-34 KJV) Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. {34} O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

In the parallel account in Luke 6:43, Jesus went on to say that oneís deeds are controlled by what is in his heart.

(Luke 6:43-45 NASB) "For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit; nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. {44} "For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. {45} "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

In the Old Testament, David showed in Psalms 10:2 that the source of the error of the wicked is based on pride, selfishness, greed, and haughtiness, all of which negate the goodness of God because they refuse to accept the supremacy of God over humanity.

(Psa 10:2-11 NASB) In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised. {3} For the wicked boasts of his heart's desire, And the greedy man curses and spurns the LORD. {4} The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, "There is no God." {5} His ways prosper at all times; Thy judgments are on high, out of his sight; As for all his adversaries, he snorts at them. {6} He says to himself, "I shall not be moved; Throughout all generations I shall not be in adversity." {7} His mouth is full of curses and deceit and oppression; Under his tongue is mischief and wickedness. {8} He sits in the lurking places of the villages; In the hiding places he kills the innocent; His eyes stealthily watch for the unfortunate. {9} He lurks in a hiding place as a lion in his lair; He lurks to catch the afflicted; He catches the afflicted when he draws him into his net. {10} He crouches, he bows down, And the unfortunate fall by his mighty ones. {11} He says to himself, "God has forgotten; He has hidden His face; He will never see it."

In Psalms 14:1, David addresses the same theme and shows that the sophistication of man pales in insignificance to the righteousness of God.

(Psa 14:1-4 NASB) (For the choir director. A Psalm of David.) The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. {2} The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. {3} They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one. {4} Do all the workers of wickedness not know, Who eat up my people as they eat bread, And do not call upon the LORD?

 

The Deceitfulness of Evil

Listen again to the wisdom given by God to Solomon in Proverbs 16:27. Letís pick it apart, verse by verse.

(Prov 16:27-30 NASB) A worthless man digs up evil, While his words are as a scorching fire. {28} A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends. {29} A man of violence entices his neighbor, And leads him in a way that is not good. {30} He who winks his eyes does so to devise perverse things; He who compresses his lips brings evil to pass.

Verse 27 states it is the ambition of the worthless man to dig up evil. Thatís the same as what we see in the world around us today in political circles where it is commonplace to dig up as much "dirt" or bad news about a political adversary, regardless of whether or not it is true. Verse 28 says it is the ambition of the perverse man to spread strife and itís the desire of a slanderer to separate intimate friends through his slander. We examined the topic of spreading strife in a sermon given by Wayne Bedwell entitled Strife. We all know God hates slander because he hates lying and even outlaws it in the ninth commandment. Verse 29 states that it is the man of violence who entices his neighbor and leads him in a way that is not good. While these verses show four possibly different individuals, verse 30 implies that all four traits can be wrapped up in the same individual who "winks his eye" at the evil he may observe and, by denying it, gives space for perverse things to be devised and for evil to pass. Solomon, therefore, clearly shows that evil and perversity are allowed to grow where Godís standards of righteousness are not followed.

While Solomon warned of the evil and perversity dredged up by schemers, Jesus was quick to spot a sparkling example of one who was not a schemer and who didnít make lengthy plans to trick others.

(John 1:47 KJV) Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

Just what does it mean to have no "guile?" In Strongís Greek dictionary, the word is number 1388, dolos and it means to decoy or a trick or bait. It comes from the root word deleazo which is Strongís number 1185, and it means to entrap or delude.

So, when Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, he instantly recognized there was someone who was not scheming to entrap, trick, decoy, or delude his neighbor. What an assessment of character! Christ instantly recognized what was in Nathanaelís heart and what motivated him on a daily basis. Wouldnít we all like to have that said of us? I know I would. I strive and fall short but I continually have to ask myself if I measure up to the standards of character set as an example for us by our Master.

Godís Standards are Not New

The standards of God to which Christ alluded were not just New Testament ideas. They were hundreds and thousands of years old and written for our instruction by the Patriarchs of old. We know well the righteous men of God in the Old Testament. They were not just righteous because of tradition. They were righteous because of Godís assessment of their behaviors. In Genesis 7:1, God set Noah apart as being alone in measuring up to Godís righteous standards during his life.

(Gen 7:1 NASB) Then the LORD said to Noah, "Enter the ark, you and all your household; for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time.

Just think of that. There were about ten generations in the line of Seth from the time of Adam to the time of Noah. In the book of Genesis, the father of each generation is said to have begotten other sons and daughters. Letís do some conservative speculation. If each generation had three sons and three daughters and each of those offspring had three sons and three daughters (and certainly there must have been many families with more), within the space of ten primary generations just in the line of Seth according to the population growth formula, there could easily have been many millions. If we assume similar growth rates for the line of Cain, it would mean world population at the time of Noah could have been in the hundreds of millions. Out of all those people, Noah was the only one whom God deemed to be righteous at that time. What a compliment! How would you like that to be spoken of you?

Letís look at another example during the time of Moses regarding the issue of maintaining a good reputation. In Deuteronomy 22:13, we can see how the very law of God given to Israel dealt with handling the defamation of reputation.

(Deu 22:13-19 NASB) "If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then turns against her, {14} and charges her with shameful deeds and publicly defames her, and says, 'I took this woman, but when I came near her, I did not find her a virgin,' {15} then the girl's father and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of the girl's virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. {16} "And the girl's father shall say to the elders, 'I gave my daughter to this man for a wife, but he turned against her; {17} and behold, he has charged her with shameful deeds, saying, "I did not find your daughter a virgin." But this is the evidence of my daughter's virginity. 'And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city. {18} "So the elders of that city shall take the man and chastise him, {19} and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give it to the girl's father, because he publicly defamed a virgin of Israel. And she shall remain his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days.

We can, therefore, see it was of uppermost importance to protect the good name of both the wife and of the wifeís parents.

Many generations later, David was a stalwart in upholding the integrity of Godís righteousness in the words of Psalms 15.

(Psalms 15 NASB) (A Psalm of David.) O LORD, who may abide in Thy tent? Who may dwell on Thy holy hill? {2} He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. {3} He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend; {4} In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the LORD; He swears to his own hurt, and does not change; {5} He does not put out his money at interest, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.

Again, in Psalms 119, David spoke of the blessings to be derived by living according to Godís righteousness.

(Psa 119:1-31 NASB) How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the law of the LORD. {2} How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart. {3} They also do no unrighteousness; They walk in His ways. {4} Thou hast ordained Thy precepts, That we should keep them diligently. {5} Oh that my ways may be established To keep Thy statutes! {6} Then I shall not be ashamed When I look upon all Thy commandments. {7} I shall give thanks to Thee with uprightness of heart, When I learn Thy righteous judgments. {8} I shall keep Thy statutes; Do not forsake me utterly! {9} How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word. {10} With all my heart I have sought Thee; Do not let me wander from Thy commandments. {11} Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee. {12} Blessed art Thou, O LORD; Teach me Thy statutes. {13} With my lips I have told of All the ordinances of Thy mouth. {14} I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies, As much as in all riches. {15} I will meditate on Thy precepts, And regard Thy ways. {16} I shall delight in Thy statutes; I shall not forget Thy word. {17} Deal bountifully with Thy servant, That I may live and keep Thy word. {18} Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Thy law. {19} I am a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Thy commandments from me. {20} My soul is crushed with longing After Thine ordinances at all times. {21} Thou dost rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, Who wander from Thy commandments. {22} Take away reproach and contempt from me, For I observe Thy testimonies. {23} Even though princes sit and talk against me, Thy servant meditates on Thy statutes. {24} Thy testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors. {25} My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Thy word. {26} I have told of my ways, and Thou hast answered me; Teach me Thy statutes. {27} Make me understand the way of Thy precepts, So I will meditate on Thy wonders. {28} My soul weeps because of grief; Strengthen me according to Thy word. {29} Remove the false way from me, And graciously grant me Thy law. {30} I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Thine ordinances before me. {31} I cleave to Thy testimonies; O LORD, do not put me to shame!

Several generations later in Isaiah 59, the prophet Isaiah spoke of the evil of the world in his day but he went beyond his day in showing the prophecies regarding how God will handle the evil of the world with the righteousness of his judgment.

(Isa 59 NASB) Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short That it cannot save; Neither is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. {2} But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear. {3} For your hands are defiled with blood, And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken falsehood, Your tongue mutters wickedness. {4} No one sues righteously and no one pleads honestly. They trust in confusion, and speak lies; They conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. {5} They hatch adders' eggs and weave the spider's web; He who eats of their eggs dies, And from that which is crushed a snake breaks forth. {6} Their webs will not become clothing, Nor will they cover themselves with their works; Their works are works of iniquity, And an act of violence is in their hands. {7} Their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; Devastation and destruction are in their highways. {8} They do not know the way of peace, And there is no justice in their tracks; They have made their paths crooked; Whoever treads on them does not know peace. {9} Therefore, justice is far from us, And righteousness does not overtake us; We hope for light, but behold, darkness; For brightness, but we walk in gloom. {10} We grope along the wall like blind men, We grope like those who have no eyes; We stumble at midday as in the twilight, Among those who are vigorous we are like dead men. {11} All of us growl like bears, And moan sadly like doves; We hope for justice, but there is none, For salvation, but it is far from us. {12} For our transgressions are multiplied before Thee, And our sins testify against us; For our transgressions are with us, And we know our iniquities: {13} Transgressing and denying the LORD, And turning away from our God, Speaking oppression and revolt, Conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words. {14} And justice is turned back, And righteousness stands far away; For truth has stumbled in the street, And uprightness cannot enter. {15} Yes, truth is lacking; And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the LORD saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. {16} And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him; And His righteousness upheld Him. {17} And He put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing, And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle. {18} According to their deeds, so He will repay, Wrath to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; To the coastlands He will make recompense. {19} So they will fear the name of the LORD from the west And His glory from the rising of the sun, For He will come like a rushing stream, Which the wind of the LORD drives. {20} "And a Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob," declares the LORD. {21} "And as for Me, this is My covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring," says the LORD, "from now and forever."

The prophet Malachi prophesied of how it would be at the time of the end when God would reserve for himself a few who would not succumb to the evil of their day but would honor God in their daily actions and their daily speech.

(Mal 3:16-18 NASB) Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. {17} "And they will be Mine," says the LORD of hosts, "on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him." {18} So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.

In New Testament times, we can see examples of those called by God who did not fall prey to the evil of their times but who kept Godís righteous laws to their full and were deemed by God as being righteous and accepted by him. In Luke 1:5, we can see two of those individuals.

(Luke 1:5-6 NASB) In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. {6} And they were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.

A few years later in Luke 2:25, we can see there were others attaining to the righteousness of God.

(Luke 2:25-38 NASB) And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. {26} And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. {27} And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, {28} then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, {29} "Now Lord, Thou dost let Thy bond-servant depart In peace, according to Thy word; {30} For my eyes have seen Thy salvation, {31} Which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, {32} A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Thy people Israel." {33} And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. {34} And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed-- {35} and a sword will pierce even your own soul-- to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed." {36} And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with a husband seven years after her marriage, {37} and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. And she never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. {38} And at that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

 

Godís Righteous Judgment

So, weíve seen several of the men and women of God who grew to exhibit the righteousness of God in their daily thoughts and deeds. They spoke of Godís righteous standards and they lived by what they spoke. They also preached to others about Godís righteousness and how it will be implemented on earth for the benefit of all mankind. That was not just a New Testament thing. It went back as far as the earliest descendants of Adam as we can read about Enoch in Jude 1:14.

(Jude 1:14-15 KJV) And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, {15} To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

1 Chronicles 16 tells us that David assigned Asaph and his sons the job of continually giving thanks to God and ministering before the ark of the covenant "as every dayís work required."

(1 Chr 16:1-7 NASB) And they brought in the ark of God and placed it inside the tent which David had pitched for it, and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God. {2} When David had finished offering the burnt offering and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD. {3} And he distributed to everyone of Israel, both man and woman, to everyone a loaf of bread and a portion of meat and a raisin cake. {4} And he appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the LORD, even to celebrate and to thank and praise the LORD God of Israel: {5} Asaph the chief, and second to him Zechariah, then Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom, and Jeiel, with musical instruments, harps, lyres; also Asaph played loud-sounding cymbals, {6} and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests blew trumpets continually before the ark of the covenant of God. {7} Then on that day David first assigned Asaph and his relatives to give thanks to the LORD.

From Psalms 73, we can see one of those ways in which Asaph ministered and gave thanks to God, under the direction of David.

(Psa 73 NASB) (A Psalm of Asaph.) Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart! {2} But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; My steps had almost slipped. {3} For I was envious of the arrogant, As I saw the prosperity of the wicked. {4} For there are no pains in their death; And their body is fat. {5} They are not in trouble as other men; Nor are they plagued like mankind. {6} Therefore pride is their necklace; The garment of violence covers them. {7} Their eye bulges from fatness; The imaginations of their heart run riot. {8} They mock, and wickedly speak of oppression; They speak from on high. {9} They have set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue parades through the earth. {10} Therefore his people return to this place; And waters of abundance are drunk by them. {11} And they say, "How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?" {12} Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased in wealth. {13} Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure, And washed my hands in innocence; {14} For I have been stricken all day long, And chastened every morning. {15} If I had said, "I will speak thus," Behold, I should have betrayed the generation of Thy children. {16} When I pondered to understand this, It was troublesome in my sight {17} Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end. {18} Surely Thou dost set them in slippery places; Thou dost cast them down to destruction. {19} How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! {20} Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, Thou wilt despise their form.

So, Asaph and David were willing to wait on Godís time of judgment. They knew that, at the right time and at the time of Godís own choosing, he will execute vengeance upon the evil. David spoke again of Godís vengeance in Psalms 94.

(Psa 94 NASB) O LORD, God of vengeance; God of vengeance, shine forth! {2} Rise up, O Judge of the earth; Render recompense to the proud. {3} How long shall the wicked, O LORD, How long shall the wicked exult? {4} They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness vaunt themselves. {5} They crush Thy people, O LORD, And afflict Thy heritage. {6} They slay the widow and the stranger, And murder the orphans. {7} And they have said, "The LORD does not see, Nor does the God of Jacob pay heed." {8} Pay heed, you senseless among the people; And when will you understand, stupid ones? {9} He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see? {10} He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke, Even He who teaches man knowledge? {11} The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath. {12} Blessed is the man whom Thou dost chasten, O LORD, And dost teach out of Thy law; {13} That Thou mayest grant him relief from the days of adversity, Until a pit is dug for the wicked. {14} For the LORD will not abandon His people, Nor will He forsake His inheritance. {15} For judgment will again be righteous; And all the upright in heart will follow it. {16} Who will stand up for me against evildoers? Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness? {17} If the LORD had not been my help, My soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence. {18} If I should say, "My foot has slipped," Thy lovingkindness, O LORD, will hold me up. {19} When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Thy consolations delight my soul. {20} Can a throne of destruction be allied with Thee, One which devises mischief by decree? {21} They band themselves together against the life of the righteous, And condemn the innocent to death. {22} But the LORD has been my stronghold, And my God the rock of my refuge. {23} And He has brought back their wickedness upon them, And will destroy them in their evil; The LORD our God will destroy them.

Enoch, Asaph, and David were not the only ones who knew that the right of revenge belongs to God alone. Paul knew it, too. We can read of that in Romans 12.

(Rom 12 NASB) I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. {2} And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. {3} For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. {4} For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, {5} so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. {6} And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; {7} if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; {8} or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. {9} Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. {10} Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; {11} not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; {12} rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, {13} contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. {14} Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. {15} Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. {16} Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. {17} Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. {18} If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. {19} Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. {20} "BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS UPON HIS HEAD." {21} Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Letís look at the original scripture in Deuteronomy 32:35 quoted by Paul.

(Deu 32:35-36 NASB) 'Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.' {36} "For the LORD will vindicate His people, And will have compassion on His servants; When He sees that their strength is gone, And there is none remaining, bond or free.

Consider this: if vengeance belongs to God and retribution, or what we would call "payback," belongs to God as well, then what am I doing when I become impatient and choose to exact my own revenge? When I take into my own hands the prerogative of determining the appropriate punishment for an offense against me, I am taking something that belongs to God alone. I am stealing from God. I become a commandment breaker.

 

Upholding Godís Worthy Name

Look at what the apostle James said in James 2:5 about voiding the law of God through our actions.

(James 2:5-10 KJV) Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? {6} But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? {7} Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? {8} If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: {9} But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. {10} For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

If we are called by "that worthy name" of God, then living up to the worthiness of that name is our duty. Our actions and inactions reflect on the worthiness of that name by which we are called. At the beginning of this sermon, we asked the question, "Just what is in a name?" We have seen today that there is a lot embodied in a name, particularly in the name of God. Godís name stands for integrity and Godís very standards of righteousness. Godís name is so important that he made the upholding of his name a very pillar of our performance by embodying it in one of his ten commandments. Exodus 20:7 we should all know by heart.

(Exo 20:7 NASB) "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

I must continually ask myself if I am taking Godís name in vain and degrading Godís name through my daily actions. The character I display for others to observe should be of Sterling quality because it reflects on "that worthy name by which you are called" as we just read in James. If I persist in actions that bring disrepute or attitudes of ill will on Godís name, I become guilty again of being a commandment breaker.

The Apostle Peter knew that principle and he taught in 1 Pet 3:8 that Christians should do everything possible to avoid evil and to do good instead.

(1 Pet 3:8-11 NASB) To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; {9} not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. {10} For, "LET HIM WHO MEANS TO LOVE LIFE AND SEE GOOD DAYS REFRAIN HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING GUILE. {11} "AND LET HIM TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; LET HIM SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.

Do I return insult for insult or evil for evil? Do I keep my tongue from evil and speaking guile? We saw earlier that Jesus said Nathanael was an Israelite in whom there was "no guile" or deceit. Could Jesus say that of each of us? Do I use trickery or deceit? Itís obvious such behavior is not a favorable reflection on the good name of God.

 

Finally, everyone wants rewards. In Luke 6:27, Jesus gave us very specific instructions about how to deal with temptations and assaults that come our way.

(Luke 6:27-38 NASB) "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, {28} bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. {29} "Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. {30} "Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. {31} "And just as you want people to treat you, treat them in the same way. {32} "And if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. {33} "And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. {34} "And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same amount. {35} "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. {36} "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. {37} "And do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. {38} "Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."

Remember the last line, "For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." Therefore, our standard of measure must be the same as Godís standard. We must daily live up to the righteous standards of "that worthy name by which you are called."

 

 

Sermon given by Philip Edwards

July 14, 2007

 

Copyright 2007, Philip Edwards

 

 

 

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