Sermon Seeds: Don’t Shame the Family Name

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Do not carry the Lord’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7).

Recently I was having a discussion about the meaning of this commandment. Our conversation reminded me of how important “the family name” used to be. And the oft repeated instruction to not do anything to bring shame to the family name.

Can you remember the last time this was a concern? Me, neither.

I wonder if our casual treating of family name and family honor hasn’t seeped over into our treatment of God’s holy name?

Perhaps that’s why Paul came down so hard on the early Christian church. Paul was raised to adhere to the Law and the Commandments. In his pedigree recital to the Philippians (see Philippians 3) he mentions being from the tribe of Benjamin right off the bat. He also said to the Colossians and the Corinthians:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17, NIV).

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV).

Even Jesus thought this was important enough to include in his teaching on prayer with the disciples: Father, make your name holy in all I do (author’s paraphrase of Matthew 6:9).

As I was putting the finishing touches on this, a thought occurred to me. Historically, shaming the family name could have devastating and long-lasting consequences. Shunning and be disowned, cut off from the family forever, were not unheard of.

I’m thankful that it doesn’t have to be that way in the family of God. A quick read through the Bible shows that many of the recognizable characters had moments of shame. The good news is ours is a God of unfailing love, reconciliation, and restoration.

So as you head out the door today, what will you do to make Papa proud? Bring glory not shame to His name.