Isaiah 48:9-12    ”For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off.  See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.  For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.  How can I let myself be defamed?  I will not yield my glory to another.  Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last.”

There is untold blessing to be enjoyed in knowing that we belong to God’s chosen people.  It’s neither arrogant nor presumptuous to have this confident assurance because such belonging does not depend on our goodness or performance but only on what God has done for us in Christ.   In fact, God longs that we are never in doubt that we are his children through faith in Christ’s finished work for us on the Cross.

But with this blessing and privilege also comes responsibility.  We are ‘not our own’, we are ‘bought with a price’, and therefore we are to ’honour God in [our] body’ (1 Corinthians 6:20).  King David was aware of the sin in his life, and his main concern was that his bad example would cause others to go astray: “You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you.  May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me, O Lord, the LORD Almighty; may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me, O God of Israel” (cf Psalm 69:5-6).

The LORD had to remind his Covenant People constantly that it was “For my own name’s sake …  for the sake of my praise … … For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another” that he had to deal with them the way he did.  We have seen too many cases in the Church’s history, and even in our own day, of the damage Satan can do to the cause of Christ by luring high-profile Christians into moral failure.  As the Apostle Peter had to warn his readers: “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’”  (1 Peter 1:13-16).

Do we strive to make ‘holy living’ a top priority in our daily lives, speech, and witness – especially in times of relaxation and leisure, when Satan can so easily achieve his purposes – so as not to bring dishonour on the Gospel?  “May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me, O Lord, the LORD Almighty.”

– Bruce Christian