Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name. (1 Kings 8:41-43)

The above statement was made by Solomon when he dedicated the temple. It is one of the clearest statements that declared this understanding: God acts in order that godless people will not have the wrong concept of Him. In Ezekiel 20:44 God said, Then you will know that I am the Lord when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your evil ways or according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God. Israel misrepresented Him, and He was not pleased. Again, God said in Ezekiel 36:22, Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.” Again in verses 31, 32, Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations. “I am not doing this for your sake,” declares the Lord God, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!”

The Old Testament repeatedly makes it evident that God blesses and holds accountable, not because of us, but to verify His identity. In one of the best known scriptures of the Old Testament (Psalms 23), why will the Shepherd God destroy want, give green pastures, and quiet waters as He restores the soul and guides in paths of righteousness? “For His name’s sake.” The pleas of the Psalms are for God to pardon (25:11), lead and guide (31:3), deliver and forgive (79:9), save (106:8), deal kindly with (109:21), and revive (143:11) for His name’s sake, not people’s deservedness.

In the New Testament, this same understanding is transferred to Christ. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promise (1 Corinthians 15:24-28) and the way to God (John 14:6). Thus, even when we suffer ill treatment, loss of life, or loss of material things “for my sake,” we will be generously blessed (Matthew l0:18, 39; 19:29).

We always need to remember that IT IS ABOUT GOD AND NOT ABOUT US. To give people the right impression of God, regardless of how that is achieved, is an honor for us.

Matthew 5:13-16, You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 23 August 2007

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