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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - Be the Person Your Dog Thinks You Are

Craig Smith - Be the Person Your Dog Thinks You Are

Craig Smith - Be the Person Your Dog Thinks You Are
TOPICS: The Big Ten, Authenticity

Well, hey, it is so good to have you with us today, whether you’re joining us online or in-person, or walking your dog and listening to the podcast, or driving your car to work. I really believe God has you here for a reason, and we’re about to find out what that is. We’re in the midst of a series here at Mission Hills, kind of a deep dive into the Ten Commandments. And if you’re just joining us, here’s probably the most important thing you need to know. A lot of people misunderstand the Ten Commandments. It’s easy to look at the Ten Commandments and think if that’s kind of like the entrance exam for heaven, right? That’s sort of like the checklist for getting on God’s good side, for belonging to God. And one of the most incredible truths about the Christian faith is that with God, belonging doesn’t depend on behaving. With God, belonging doesn’t depend on behaving. Belonging to God doesn’t come from cleaning up our act and getting the rules right in our lives. Belonging doesn’t depend on behaving.

In fact, if you look at the Bible, what you’re gonna see consistently is that God invited people into a relationship, and then gave them the rules. He invited them to a relationship first and the rules came second, okay? Belonging doesn’t depend on behaving. The reality is according to the Bible and according to this thing called the Gospel of Jesus Christ, belonging depends on believing. Belonging to God depends on believing in the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus. When we say yes to following Jesus, we’re adopted to the family of God, we belong to God, and everything begins to change from there on out. So, the way we say it here at Mission Hills is this, it’s believing leads to belonging. Does that mean the behaving doesn’t matter? No, it’s just we gotta get in the right order. Belonging comes from believing. So believing leads to belonging, and belonging leads to behaving.

Behaving is important, but we gotta put it in the right place or we turn it into something God never intended it to be. I mean, the reality is this, as we’ve been saying in this series, rules don’t create relationships. Rules don’t create relationships, they regulate them. They regulate relationships that we already have. They keep the relationships moving in the right direction. That they allow the relationships to become everything that they could and should be. And that’s really the lens we have to look at the Ten Commandments through. They’re the rules that regulate the relationship that we have with God through faith.

Now today, we’re gonna be diving into the third commandment. So, if you wanna join me, we’re gonna be in the Book of Exodus chapter 20, starting in verse 7, Exodus 20, verse 7. And I wanna say this, I think that the third commandment is probably the most misunderstood of all the commandments. It’s the most misunderstood of all the commandments. And because of that, two things happen that I think are of deep concern to God. The first one is this, because we misunderstand the third commandment and we often end up breaking the third commandment without even realizing that’s what we’re doing, we are hurting the cause of Christ. We’re actually keeping the Gospel from advancing into the world and in individual lives in the way that it should. In fact, I know that there are many people here today listening to this message who are struggling with God, struggling to believe that God is good. And it’s because you have been wounded deeply, you’ve been hurt deeply by somebody who was actually breaking the third commandment. Misunderstanding the third commandment is hampering the advancement of the Gospel into the world and into our individual lives.

Second thing that happens because we misunderstand this commandment is we fail to see it for what it is. We fail to see it as an invitation by God to become the people that God intended us to be, and to enter into a life that that has all the things that God wants for us, including joy. We don’t see it as the invitation that it is. Hey, listen, I don’t know how many of you are dog owners. I don’t know how many of you are dog people. Because Mission Hills is filled with good and godly people, I’m gonna assume it’s most of you, okay? And I know there’s some people out there going, “Well, pastor, I’m more of a cat person.” I just want you to know it’s okay. God’s still working on me in some areas too, okay? You’re gonna get there. But here’s the thing about your dog, your dog thinks you’re amazing. Like, your dog thinks you’re brilliant. Your dog thinks that you are trustworthy and reliable to the highest possible degree.

I mean, think about it. When was the last time you said to your dog, hey, do you wanna go for a walk, and your dog looked at you skeptically? Like, “Yeah. I’m not falling for that one again.” No, I mean, for me, at least I say, you wanna go for a walk, and my dogs lose their minds, right? I don’t even have to be inviting them on a walk. Like, I can be talking to Coletta, and Coletta can go, oh, yeah, I went for a walk with so and so today, and our dogs are like, “We’re in. You said it, we’re totally in.” I mean, man, they believe us, our words have weight with our dogs. And here’s the thing, like, can you imagine how incredible it would be if everybody thought as highly of you as your dog does? Can you imagine if everybody thought you were as trustworthy and reliable as your dog does? Can you imagine if for everybody else, your words had as much weight as they do for your dog? That’s why we’ve called this message, “Be who your dog thinks you are.” Because that’s actually third commandment territory. A lot of people don’t realize that, but that’s actually what the third commandment is inviting us to.

So Exodus chapter 20, verse 7, third commandment says this, and I’m gonna read from the New International Version. If you grew up in church, this might seem a little different than the wording you might have grown up with, but the third commandment in the New International Version says this, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” I love that translation. I really think it’s maybe better than any of the other ones. It’s captured the intent of this. But again, it sounds a little different than some of us may have grown up with. How many of us grew up hearing kind of this version of it that would say something like this, “You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain?” How many of us heard that kind of growing up? Yeah. That was the one I always heard. You get that in the English Standard Version, New American Standard, the old-fashioned King James, “You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.”

And I’m gonna be honest, when I was growing up, I had no idea what that meant. Like, how do you take God’s name? What does that even mean? And then, I remember hearing as a kid that when a guy and girl get married, she would often take his name. She would change your name to his name. And I was like, “Is that what God’s talking about? He’s saying don’t rename yourself God?” Like, who would be vain enough to…? Oh, right there, right? Yeah. That must be an expression of vanity. That must be why it’s saying. And I couldn’t even imagine why anybody would do that. I mean, I knew a few people who thought they were God, but even they weren’t vain enough to rename themselves God, right? I just, like, it’s one of those commands that, like, I don’t guess this one really applies to me. I would never think of doing that and I can’t imagine anybody doing that.

And then, I started hanging out with some Hispanic families. And it’s interesting with Hispanic families, especially if they’re Jesus followers, a lot of times you’ll find in Hispanic Christian family somebody named Jesus. Like, named Jesus. And I remember the first time I met a Jesus, I was like, “Dude, like, I don’t wanna be the bearer of bad news, but you might wanna think about changing your name.” Right? Like Fernando, have you thought about Fernando? I think Fernando’s a great…I love Fernando. Maybe Juan, okay. I mean, there’s a lot of options, but I don’t think you wanna call yourself Jesus, right? But obviously, that’s not what this is talking about. It’s not.

And I was told maybe what you were told. I think a lot of us were told that, “Oh no, taking the Lord’s name in vain, misusing God’s name is when we use God’s name as an exclamation or an expletive.” An exclamation or an expletive, it’s when you step on a Lego and you get religious, right? Or somebody cuts you off in traffic and you go Old Testament prophet on them, right? You’re calling damnation from God upon them and the bucket of rust that they drove into your life on, right? Or nowadays, we see something amazing and we post it online with OMG, right? Oh my God. And it’s so interesting, right?

Like, our faith as a culture has, like, tanked, right? I mean, the degree and the influence of faith in our culture is like on a pretty steady downward trend, but the mentions of God in casual conversation have cranked up, right? I mean, you hear, oh my God constantly, and it’s not an expression of reference, right, it’s just an exclamation. Now, listen, here’s the thing, like, I’m gonna say to you, we shouldn’t do that. We shouldn’t use God’s name as an exclamation or an expletive. We shouldn’t do that. It’s disrespectful, but that’s not what this is talking about. This is actually talking about something much more serious than that. Something, again, that many of us do without even realizing that we’ve stepped into third commandment territory.

Okay. So, what is this talking about? Well, I think to answer that, it might be useful to move from the New International Version and pass the New American Standard and English Standard to what I call the CLT version, which is the Craig’s literal translation version, okay? Here’s a pretty literal translation of the original Hebrew of this command, basically it says, “You shall not lift up the name of the Lord lightly.” Pretty literal translation. You shall not lift up the name of the Lord lightly. Now, there’s three key pieces to it that if we understand, we’ll begin to zero in on what exactly this command is about. The first one he says is don’t lift up. And the Hebrew word there literally means don’t raise up like a flag. So, just don’t wave it around, okay? Basically, he’s saying kind of this. He’s saying, “Hey, don’t wave the God flag.” You might think of it, don’t play the God card, okay? Don’t bring God into the conversation. Don’t go waving God around in your conversation, okay? That’s the first part. Second part, he says, don’t lift up the name. Now, in the original language, he actually uses his original name, his proper name, Yahweh. We talked about this a couple of weeks ago that when God gave his people his name, it was an invitation to intimacy, it was an invitation to relationship. Names had power. Names were a lot more than just the sound you called somebody. Your name was your reputation, right?

We even do that in English today, we’ll say things like, you know, “My good name got dragged through the mud.” Right? My reputation got attacked. Name equals reputation. And the idea here is don’t go waving God’s reputation for some reason that’s not really called for. Because here’s the thing, we do this sometimes, right? We meet somebody, maybe we meet somebody famous, or we meet somebody that’s got some power or some authority, and so what do we do? We name-drop. Anybody here ever name-dropped? Can we be honest with each other at church? Come on, come on. My kids used to do it all the time. I’d hear them, “Well, Dad…” That was one sister trying to get the other sister to do what she wanted by bringing somebody else in with a little bit more authority. We name-drop, whether it’s parents, or the boss, or some other person with influence. We name-drop. And basically, what this command is saying, don’t lift up the name of the Lord. He’s basically saying, “Hey, don’t name-drop God’s name.” Stop name-dropping God. Stop name-dropping Jesus into the conversation.

Now, why would anybody do that? Why would you name-drop God into a conversation? The answer is so that you can get something that you want, right? So that you’ll get them maybe to give you their trust. They’ll trust you. Or maybe they’ll give you a second chance. Or maybe they’ll give you money or something else. It’s try to get something from them. And he says, “Hey, listen, don’t lift up the name of your Lord God lightly.” Sometimes translated as in vain, meaning uselessly or without cause, without a really good reason. And the bottom line really, what this command is saying is this, it’s saying, “Hey, don’t use God’s name for your gain.” That make sense, church? That’s the heart of it. Don’t use God’s name for your gain. Don’t bring God into it so you can get something you want out of it. Now, we would never do that, would we? We’d never bring God into it so that I can get something that I want out of it, would we? We do. I think there’s two ways that it happens pretty frequently. And we often use God’s name to, number one, to justify our agenda, and number two, to increase our credibility. That’s the two main ways that I think we do this, sometimes without realizing what we’re doing.

We use God’s name to justify our agenda and to increase our credibility. So, we use it to justify our agenda. And what I mean by that is what we basically communicate is, hey, it’s not my agenda, it’s the Almighty’s. This is not what I want, this is what God wants. We do it all the time. I have a friend, he’s a guy I coach, he’s a pastor. And he was telling me a while ago, he said, you know, there’s a weird culture at this church that I inherited, and the culture is that nobody has opinions. They all have a word from God. He says, “Every Sunday, there’s a woman who comes up to me and she says, ‘God told me to challenge you on that point.'” Every single week. And it’s usually about politics or some social issues, but she never says, “I disagree with that point.” She never says, “I’m struggling to understand how you could say that.” She always comes, she says, “God told me to challenge you on that point.” He’s like, “What am I supposed to do? What should I say?” And I said, “Well, next time she says, ‘God told me to challenge you,’ just tell her, ‘Well, God told me to say it. So I don’t know what we do now.'” Right?

But here’s the reality if I can be honest with you, pastors are the worst at this. Pastors are the worst at this. Playing the God card to get someone to get on board with their agenda. I remember years ago hearing a guy preaching on TV and he said, “God told me to tell you that if I don’t raise a million dollars by so and so a date, he’s gonna call me home.” I remember thinking, “Well, bon voyage.” Okay. Like, God didn’t tell you to say that. You’re using God to justify your agenda. That’s third commandment territory right there, okay? Pastors do it all the time. And here’s the reality, and this is where it really gets painful. History is littered with this trash. You hear me, church? History is littered with this trash. People have used the name of God to justify the crusades. People have used the name of God to justify the Holocaust. People have used the name of God to justify slavery. People are still using the name of God to justify racism, and prejudice, and injustice. They’re using God to justify their agenda. And that hurts the cause of Christ.

I regularly encounter people who say, “I don’t understand how you can say God is good when he was in favor of the Holocaust.” I don’t know how you can say God is good when he was in favor of the crusades, or slavery, or racism, or injustice. And I go, “Well, God’s not in favor of those things. Well, people have been saying for a long time, God told me to do this. God led us do this.” They’ve used the name of God to justify some pretty terrible things, but it wasn’t God. They were using God’s name to justify their agenda. And as I said, I know that there are many people listening to this right now, you are struggling to believe that God is good. And the reason is because you grew up in a home where you had somebody in your life who hurt you. That they controlled you. Maybe they even abused you. And they claimed it’s not what they wanted, it’s what God required. I know there are people listening who have had that experience. God was the sharp end of the stick used to keep you in that person’s line. And if that happened to you, I just wanna say, I’m sorry. But I know it’s the reality, this is what happens when we use God’s name to justify our agenda.

Now listen, if it comes right out of the Bible and you’re quoting it in context, that’s important. If it comes right out of God’s Word and you’re quoting it in context, feel free to say, “God told me,” feel free to say, “God said.” Shoot, if a bush catches fire and the words of the bush are in alignment with the words of the Book, that’s important too because there’s other spirits out there, okay? If the bush catches fire and the words of the bush line up, they’re consistent with the words in the Book, feel free to say, “God said.” But apart from that, maybe be careful about putting your words in God’s mouth because God has a word, he has a term for when we put our words in his mouth. God has a term for when we use his reputation to justify or to pursue our aspirations. He has a word, and that word is false prophecy. He has a pretty dim view of false prophecy. In the words of a legitimate prophet, man named Jeremiah, this is what God said, “And then the Lord said to me, ‘The prophets,’ and you put a little of air quotes around that or you should, ‘the prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I’ve not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries, and the delusions of their own minds.'” It’s an interesting list.

He says, “They’re prophesying to you false visions and divinations.” Those are messages that came from other spirits than God. Reality is we and you have an enemy, and that enemy would like more than for his ideas to be put in God’s mouth. And sometimes we receive those messages from those spirits, but somehow we end up passing them off as God’s truth. And boy, let me tell you something, Satan has a field day when that happens. There’s some racism and some prejudice that I think fits into that category really neatly. He says, they’re prophesying idolatries, messages they got from idols. And an idol, of course, it’s something we put out front of God. And then having put it out front of God, we begin to treat it like God. And then its messages, we treat like divine revelation. I see it happening in American Christianity sometimes with politics. We put a political party kind of out front of God, and then the politics actually becomes our idol. And we confuse the words of our political party with the Words of our God. And that’s just not always the case. Listen, it’s fine to think of yourself as primarily Republican and primarily Democrat. That’s fine. But don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that your party is your God.

I don’t belong neither the Republican or the Democrat party. I heard a new friend of mine said the other day, “I’m not a Republican, I’m not a Democrat. I’m a Christicratican.” I was like, “I’m joining that party, a Christicratican.” Yeah, it’s fine, take the good stuff from your party, repent the bad stuff, whichever side of the aisle you’re on, but don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that your political party speaks the Words of God every time they show up on a platform somewhere. Be careful about that. It happens in ministry too. Sometimes we make idols out of methods of ministry. It’s so interesting to me. I’m an expository teacher. If you don’t know what that means, it means that my typical way of preaching God’s Word is to take a passage and to unpack that passage. Take it apart, explain the pieces of it, put it back together, talk about how we live it. Sometimes I preach whole books, sometimes I preach sections of books, sometimes I preach just an individual passage. But probably 95% of the time, I preach a whole passage on a given weekend. It’s called expository teaching.

And that’s the way I’m wired. It’s the way I prefer. I think it’s a good way of doing ministry, but it bothers me when people begin to say, “That’s God’s way of doing ministry.” And I’ve heard it. I’ve heard it from people in this church that they look at other churches who don’t do it that way, other churches that… There’s another way of preaching that’s pretty common that’s called topical preaching. And that’s where people take kind of a topic we find in the Bible, and then they look throughout the Bible for different places to see what God has to say about it in different places. And they bring those together in a sermon, that’s called topical preaching. In the seminary, we called it systematic theology. It’s a really good thing. But some people who prefer topical or prefer expository teaching, look at people who do topical preaching and they go, “That’s not God’s way.” And I go, “How do you figure?” Because here’s the thing, the only model of preaching we find in the Scripture is actually topical preaching.

The only model we find if you look in the New Testament, if you look at sermons in the New Testament, they’re picking and choosing verses from the Old Testament. They’re moving quickly through them. They’re not going in-depth in any of them. That’s topical preaching. The only model we find in the Bible is topical preaching, and yet I’ve heard people who like expository preaching going, “That’s not God’s way, expository teaching is God’s way.” No, it’s not. And we need to be more in love with God’s Word than with a particular method of teaching God’s Word. Listen, just so you calm down, I’m not getting ready for a big change. This is who I am. We can be for what we are without being against what we aren’t. And by the love of God, let’s stop saying what we’re for is what God is for. This is a method God uses, but he uses those other methods too. We’re not gonna make idols out of methods. We’re not gonna make idols outta political parties. And we’re not gonna take the words that we find from those methods, from those parties, and put them in God’s mouth. He says, “There’s false delusions.” Amen. Amen.

And then he says, “There’s delusions of their minds.” They’re just crazy. They had an idea, maybe it was a good idea and they elevated that good idea to the level of divine revelation. It’s false prophecy. It’s using God’s name to justify your agenda, and God takes a pretty dim view of it. Just listen to this if I continue on in what he says here. Listen, he says, “Therefore, this is what the Lord says about the prophets who are prophesying in my name, ‘I didn’t send them, and yet they’re saying no sword or famine will ever touch this land.’ Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine.” God’s got an ironic sense of humor, right? The things they say I would never do, I’m gonna do to them. Don’t put my words in your mouth. No, got that wrong. Don’t put your words in my mouth. Don’t use my name to justify your agenda. Let’s not forget third commandment has a threat, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord of God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” Ten Commandments, only two of them have threats. This is one of them. Fifty percent of the threats in the Ten Commandments are attached to this idea of using God’s name to justify our agenda. Serious business.

There’s another way that we use God’s name for our gain, and that is sometimes we use name to increase our credibility. We’ve probably all done it without even thinking about it much. You say something to somebody and they’re like, “I’m not sure I believe it.” So what do you do? You go, “Swear to God.” Some people just got nervous. I swear on a Bible. My grandfather used to tell me outrageous stories and he loved Jesus, so I wanna believe he was telling the truth, but sometimes I’d question him and he’d go, “I’d swear on a stack of Bibles.” Anybody heard that one? And I was always like, “Well, I mean, one Bible I’d still be skeptical, but if you’d do it on a stack, like…” We’ve even incorporated into our legal system, right? You go in and you put your hand on the Bible and you say, “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” say it with me, “so help me, God.” We’re using God to increase our credibility.

Seemed like a good idea, except that Jesus said this. Again, you’ve heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows that you have made.” “Keep your promises, keep your word,” he says. “But I tell you, do not swear in oath at all, either by heaven for its God’s throne or by the earth for it is his footstool or by Jerusalem for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.” And what he’s talking about here is that…see, the ancient Israelites knew that the third commandment prohibited them from using God’s name to increase their credibility, from using God’s name to get people to believe them when they made promises. And so, they’d kind of have figured out a workaround which was, we’re not gonna swear to God. We’re not gonna swear by God. We’re gonna swear by things that are precious to him. We’re gonna swear by heaven or by the earth, by the City of Jerusalem, or by the hairs on my head because they knew that even the hairs on our head are precious to God. Did you know that? Even the hairs on your head are precious to God. That’s how precious you are to him.

They didn’t swear to God, they swore by things that were precious to God. And Jesus says, you’re doing the same thing. You’re using God to increase your credibility. So what’s the alternative, right? Because we need to have our words have weight, don’t we? We need people to trust us. We have important things to say. We have kids to raise. We have families to lead. We have work to do and people to influence. We need to be people whose words have weight. If we can’t use God to prop up our reputation, if we can’t use God’s name to give our words some weight, then what are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to get weight for our words? Here’s what Jesus says the alternative is. He says, “All you need to say is simply, ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ and pay attention to this. He says, “anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” That’s pretty serious, right? Anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Like, that’s right there parallel with a third commandment saying, “Hey, God will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” God says, Jesus, this is a big deal. This third commandment territory, this is place you do not wanna be.

Why is this such a big deal? I think it’s because God knows and his Son, Jesus knows, and even the devil knows that here’s the thing, when we use God’s name, when we use God to prop up our reputation, it’s God’s reputation that suffers. You hear me, church? When we use God to prop up our reputation, it’s often God’s reputation that ends up suffering. So, Jesus says don’t do it. He says, just use a simple yes or no. And I love the simplicity of that, but it’s important to understand that Jesus isn’t just telling us what words to use, he’s also telling us how to make those words work. He’s telling us how to give those words some weight. And it doesn’t come across very well in English, there’s no easy way to do it in English, but he repeats yes twice, and he repeats no twice in the original. And essentially, what he’s saying is something like, literally it’ll be like, let be your yes, yes and your no, no. And like, well, what does that mean? Well, here’s basically what he’s saying. He’s saying, “Hey, let your yes actually be a yes, and let your no actually be a no.” Does that make sense?

What he is really saying is this. He says, when you say yes to that good thing, do that good thing. Well, how often do I need to do the good thing that I said I’d do? Every time. If you’re gonna say yes, let your yes actually be a yes. And that bad thing you say, “No, I’m not gonna do that,” don’t do it. Never do it. So let your yes actually be a yes, let your no actually be a no. And you know what happens over time? If you say it and you do it, your word begins to have weight. People begin to look at you and go, “I can trust you. I can trust you with little things, and ultimately, I can trust you at the big things.” You’re gonna tell me God’s good, well, I haven’t seen you be a man or a woman of your word up to this point, so why would I believe your word on that? But when our words begin to have weight, all of our words have weight, including the most important words that we have to speak to people is we’re living on mission with Jesus. And so basically, what Jesus says here is this, “Hey, stop bringing God’s reputation into it to prop up your reputation.” Here’s the alternative, instead of using God’s reputation to prop up your reputation, how about this? How about become a person who’s doesn’t need propping up? You hear me, church? That’s what the third command is inviting us to. That’s what Jesus is unpacking it and pointing us to. Become a person whose reputation doesn’t need propping up, become a person whose word has weight because their word is true every single time.

Let me give you a couple of practical things that I’ve learned over the years. I was gonna say God told me these things, but I’m gonna back it up just a little bit and go, these are some things that I’ve learned over the years that I think that help in becoming a person whose reputation doesn’t need propping up. Number one, it’s very practical truth, okay, it’s just basic wisdom and it’s this, under-promise and over-deliver. It’s really good advice actually, under-promise and over-deliver. I didn’t use to be very good at this. My family used to help me. One of my responsibilities in my other church was building the sets for our sermon series. And my family’s always really good about helping me, and I was really bad about telling how long it would take. I would always tell them, “I think it’s gonna take a couple of hours. Couple of hours, we’ll get this done.” It never took a couple of hours. There’s a couple of times it took a couple of days, and I lost some credibility. I’m just gonna be honest with you. I mean, to the point now where, you know, even years after that, you know, I’ll say something about how long something’s gonna take. I think, “Well, I think it’ll take a…” “No. Stop. Hang a second. Let me guess, two hours?” Yeah. My words lost some weights.

Another area that I struggled that I think a lot of us need to kind of lean into is that I needed to learn that sometimes what I need to do is I need to say no. I need to say no. It’s better to say no to some good things so that I have the space to actually deliver on some great things. Some of you if you’re like me, you want people to like you and so you’re quick to say yes, but what it means is you often under-deliver on what you promise. It’s interesting there’s a parable, it’s in Matthew 21 if you wanna read it today. And Jesus is using the parable to say something slightly different, but there’s a principle in the parable, I think. And basically, he said, hey, there was a man with two sons. And he said to the first son, I want you to go out into the vineyards and work today. And the son said, “No, I’m not gonna do that.” But then he said…but later on he changed his mind, and he went out and he worked. And then, the second son, the man said to him, “I want you to go out in the vineyards to work.” And the son said, “Absolutely Dad, I’m there, I’m in,” but he didn’t go.

Now, which one actually did the will of his father? And again, Jesus make a slightly different point, but you see the principle there. It’s better to say no and then surprise and delight than it is to say yes and disappoint, right? It’s better to say no and then delight than it is to say yes and then disappoint. Sometimes we need to under-promise and then over-deliver. I’m gonna be at your game, and then we actually show up at the game, but we show up early to the game, and you painted your daughter’s name on a sign, and you got a video camera going, and you’re in the front row. And you start to give your words some weight.

Second thing we can do to become a person whose reputation doesn’t need propping up, just practically it’s this, it’s own the occasional failure. Let’s just be honest with each other, sometimes we’re not gonna deliver. There are circumstances sometimes that are outside of our control and sometimes we’re not going to deliver. And the question becomes what do we do at that point? Here’s what we’re not gonna do. We’re not gonna go, well, yeah, I’m sorry. I wasn’t able to do it, but it was traffic, but is that incompetent person in the next cubicle, they didn’t get me the numbers I needed. It was this thing that happened, or my family did this. It was outta my control. So sorry, but not sorry. No, no, we’re not gonna do that anymore. We’re just gonna go, “Hey, I said I’d do this, and I said I’d do it by this time and I didn’t. I did not deliver. I’m sorry. Would you forgive me? Is there anything I can do to make it right?” You do that on the occasional failure and your words are gonna start to have some weight. And the more your words have weight, the more you begin to experience the life that God intended and the more you become the kind of person who’s not only becoming like Jesus, but able to join him on mission because people listen when through the help of the Holy Spirit, we become people whose reputation doesn’t need propping up.

Let me give you a couple of questions to wrestle with as we figure out what does it look like to put this into practice in my life? The first one is just very simple, but it’s an important question. What’s my rep? Like, what’s your reputation? You might even think about asking some other people around you, like, how much weight do my words have? How much do you think that I’m a man or a woman of my word? What’s my rep? Number two. How have I used or am I using God’s name to justify my agenda? That’s for Holy Spirit to speak to you. You might find that there’s some things and maybe they’re good things, maybe they’re not good things, but you’ve been justifying it by bringing God into it but, in fact, what you’re trying to do is get something out of it for yourself. Sometimes our motives get kind of confused. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can begin to sort that out. How are you using God’s name to justify your agenda? Similarly, ask the question, how have I used or am I using God’s name to increase my credibility, rather than being a person who’s yes is always a yes and who’s no is always a no? That’s the best way to give your words weight. That’s the best way to increase your credibility. But we go for shortcuts. So how are you doing that? And the last question is just this, where am I over-promising and under-delivering? Let’s pray.

Hey God, thank you that your reputation is perfect. Thank you that your Word always has weight because it’s always true. We’re told in Hebrews 6:18 that it’s impossible for you to lie. It’s not unusual. It’s not rare. It’s impossible. Your Word is always true. Your yes is always yes, your no is always no. Lord, we confess to you that we have not always lived the same way. We had said yes and failed to deliver. We’ve said no and done it anyway. We asked your forgiveness for those things that your Holy Spirit brings to our minds right now. And beyond that, Lord, we’ve broken the third commandment. We’ve used your name lightly. We’ve lifted it up lightly. We’ve used your name to justify our agenda. We’ve used your name to increase our credibility. We’ve propped up our weak reputation with your strong one, and we ask for your forgiveness. And we’re grateful for the fact that your Word is always true, and your Word says that when we confess our sins, you’re faithful and you’re just and you forgive us.

And so we accept your forgiveness, and we thank you for the blank slate to begin rebuilding our reputation, not for our sake, but for your glory. Lord, we pray together right now for those people that are listening to this message that they’re struggling with you. They’re struggling to see you as good. And maybe they’ve never even said yes to faith in you because they’ve been hurt by somebody breaking the third commandment. They’ve been hurt by somebody using you as a sharp stick to prod them into place. And it was never your agenda, it was always theirs.

And if that’s you, if you’re listening to this and you’ve never said yes to Jesus because of something like that, please hear, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that that’s happened. But here’s the truth, God is good. He’s so good that he loved you by sending his own Son to die for you. Jesus died on the cross to pay the price of your sin. Three days later, he rose from dead. That’s a fact of history. And he offers us a relationship by simply putting our faith, our belief in what Jesus did for us. That’s how good God is. And if you’ve never said yes to that relationship, here’s how you do it today, today’s the day. Set aside the hurt, set aside the pain, all those things have gotten in the way and just come to Jesus in this moment. You’re just gonna say something like this, say it with me, say:

God, I’ve done wrong. I’ve sinned. I’m sorry. Thank you for the proof of your goodness that you sent your Son to die for me to pay the price of my sin. I believe you rose from the dead. And I’m deciding right now to put my faith in you, my belief in you. Jesus, I’m saying yes to following you. I accept your adoption into your family, I accept the forgiveness of my sins and this new relationship with my Creator. Amen.

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