Summary: There are people around you who are not only watching you but keenly observing your every action and reaction. Their only open Bible and to see Christ is you. During the past years and till to date many believers have continually put the name of Christ at
Opening illustration: In a New York Times interview, a widely recognized man voiced his displeasure with a fast-food chain in whose TV commercials he had appeared. He felt that the quality of some of the items he advertised had been diminishing. Since people associated his name with the product, he didn’t want the corporation’s lowered standards to damage his own name.
The Lord is also jealous for His name. In Ezekiel 36, He declared that He had been disgraced by the rebellious practices of His chosen people Israel. They had “profaned” His name among the nations (v. 21). The same thing happens today when we as Christians live in disobedience to the Lord. Our sinful actions reflect poorly on Him. We’re not just hurting our own reputation when we fail to live up to God’s holy standards - we’re giving unbelievers an excuse for their low opinion of Him.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus carefully protected the name of His heavenly Father. If we fall short of His example, we can be sure that the Lord will keep His promise to discipline His people for His “holy name’s sake” (v. 22). God’s jealousy for His character should motivate us to live more faithfully for Him. Let’s live for the Lord - for His name’s sake. (Illustration from Mart DeHaan, Our Daily Bread)
Let us turn to Ezekiel 36 in our Bibles and check out how God’s Name is at stake …
Introduction: Now you are God’s representative and that’s a heavy responsibility to be God’s representative, but that’s what we are. And the people are drawing their conclusion of Christianity, of Jesus Christ, from what they see you do. That’s heavy. God help us that we will be proper representatives of our Lord. That people will come to know that He is so loving, that He is so kind, that He wants to help, that He will go out of His way to help. And let us, O God, be a true representation of what You are to the world around us who so desperately need to know the truth about God.
Paul writing to the Corinthians said, "You are my living epistle, and you are known and read of all men" (II Corinthians 3: 2). People may never pick up a Bible to crack its pages, they may never read the Bible, but they’re reading your life. And they’re drawing their opinions of Jesus Christ by what they see in you.
Now, God said when Israel was scattered into the nations, they profaned the name of the Lord. They caused people to hate God. They didn’t represent God in those nations where they were scattered, and so people were cursing God and cursing the name of God. And so God now declares, "Look, not for your sake I’m going to bring you back. Not because you’re so good or you’re deserving, but for My name’s sake I’m going to do it. My name that has been profaned among the heathen."
(A) How do we put God’s Name at stake?
1. It is all about I, ME, MY - Selfish (vs. 17, 19)
Proverbs 14: 12; 16: 25 tells us that, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
What would you guess is one of the first words most children say? Is it not the word, “no”? What might be the second word they learn to say? Is it not, “my” or “mine”? Now, I know we could debate this, but certainly we would agree that one of the first words spoken by most children is “my” or “mine”. Even in the first years of our life, we are inclined to be me-oriented.
Because God has chosen me to be among his people, a citizen in his everlasting kingdom, my life is not just about me being for me, but my life is all about ME being for YOU! And you, being chosen by God, are not to live for yourselves but your life is all about you being for YOU … being for the people of this community. It’s all about Me and You being for all the people of this country and the world because God is all about being for these people!
2. It is about my IDOLS – Idolatry (v. 18)
Exodus 20: 3; Deut. 5: 7 instructs us that, “You shall have no other gods before Me and not to make any graven images.”
But we must not imagine this species of idolatry is confined to the rich and great. In this also, "the toe of the peasant" (as our poet speaks) "treads upon the heel of the courtier." Thousands in low as well as in high life sacrifice to this idol; seeking their happiness (though in a more humble manner) in gratifying their outward senses. It is true, their meat, their drink, and the objects that gratify their other senses, are of a coarser kind. But still they make up all the happiness they either have or seek, and usurp the hearts which are due to God.