So, let me work backwards. The fourth commandment, about the Sabbath, is the easiest for me to keep. I really don’t have any problem resting on the seventh day, or the first day of the week as we celebrate it here in the western world. It’s pretty easy for me to come home from church, kick back all day and watch football or doze off in my La-Z-Boy. There is the temptation for me to go outside and do even the most menial of yard work but I’m afraid it will lead to more work so laziness usually wins out.
Before I pat myself on the back too much, though, I need to rein myself in because the actual commandment is to keep the Sabbath holy. Ahh, so there’s where I fail. Sure, I can rest but am I doing anything to make it holy? Yes, I go to church on my Sabbath but I’m not sure I do a whole lot more to make it holy. First, let me define the word. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary being holy means something is “exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness.” And, we commonly call the Sabbath, “the Lord’s day.” If that’s the case, am I really exalting God and devoting myself to him simply by “resting” and watching football? Maybe I need to work a little worship into that day!
“…’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’… –Luke 10:27
Okay, so I imagine we’re all pretty good at resting on the Sabbath. Many of us probably do a better job than I do of keeping it holy. That leaves probably the three toughest of the Ten Commandments for me to obey. These are all and entirely about honoring God and this is where I tend to really stink up my faith. This is where I tend to lead others down the wide path that leads to the wrong side of eternity. This is where my light doesn’t shine very brightly and I fear I am populating Hell.
God commands me to put these three commandments above all else. Above my spouse. Above my family. Above my friends. When I honor his commandments above everything else in my life, those other three fall into their harmonic place. It’s obvious by the way I’ve lived my life, I’ve put these three commandments more towards the bottom of my priority list. I’ve had a lot of gods, as I look back on it now. I have misused God’s name, although I could count on my hand the number of times I have done it in vain. I have inadvertently created graven images.
Where I feel I’ve populated Hell the most is misusing God’s name. I paraded around calling myself a Christian for about 36 years. I did a lot of really dumb, unchristian-like things but I have also said a lot of the right things. I said them with my tongue and not my heart. I owned a newspaper and put scripture on the front page every week. I signed letters, “God bless.” I thought I was honoring God, which is what I thought these three commandments are about. I didn’t realize they were about devotion.
Devotion requires love and I cannot love anyone if I don’t honor them as well. Love is most important but there is no true love without honor and respect and it takes devotion to accomplish that. I’ve lacked all those qualities most of my life. I showed my love and devotion to God by attending Sunday school and church. I even talked a very good game in our Sunday school classes. However, I didn’t do much to honor God the other 166 hours per week. I didn’t speak with much conviction about God.
God is all about love and that’s not what I’ve always been about. Sure, I used the company Christian line that I loved my fellow man. While I did (and do) love my family, I’m not sure I would have been accused of loving people the way God loves. God’s love is unconditional and my love was certainly conditional. I had a low tolerance for people who didn’t share my views and I often expressed my views in non-Christian-like ways. I snapped to judgments and let people know when I had cast my opinions. While I feel I’m getting closer to unconditional love, I still have a long way to go. If I call myself a Christian and don’t speak in love, I am misusing God’s name. How many others have followed my suit?
As I’ve toned down my verbal assaults I’ve started wearing God on my sleeve. Well, actually on a lot of my t-shirts, but my point is that I’m trying to express my love towards God more by wearing it. Now, that comes with a lot of responsibility and that’s where I now fail in misusing God’s name. If I say I love God in some way on my shirt, my words and actions better back it up. After reading the book, Crazy Love by Frances Chan, I got all fired up about love for everything (God and people). I got a Crazy Love t-shirt that states simply on the front that GOD IS LOVE. I’m proud to wear it. That pride won’t get anyone to Heaven, though, if while I wear it I’m misusing God’s name. When I wear God shirts I have to resist the urge to spout off in negativity. I have to resist the urge to discuss things I don’t know to be true. I have to resist the urge to not say things that compare with taking the Lord’s name in vain.
Whether I like it or not, the world judges Christians by our words and actions. If I want to avoid populating hell, I need to hold myself to higher standards. I need to make sure my life revolves around obeying to the letter, the first three commandments. That’s why I need my shirts to hold me accountable!