November 4, 2015

Deuteronomy 3:26 But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me.

I find it fascinating that Moses, of all people, is blame-shifting even at this time of his life. The incident for which God would not let him cross the Jordan, recorded in Numbers 20:6-12, was triggered by the attitude of the people, but the problem was Moses’ attitude. At that time God said very clearly, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” (Numbers 20:12) God takes the matter of being honored as holy very seriously. We tend to skip over in our minds the first part of the Lord’s Prayer. We don’t have an emotional connection with “Hallowed be Thy name,” so it becomes just words to us. Even in contemporary English, “May Your name be honored as holy” doesn’t click with us, but it is exactly the issue that kept Moses out of the Promised Land. Even the third of the 10 Commandments touches on this, forbidding taking God’s name in vain. Today, people do that so casually they don’t even think about it. Teaching English in Japan, I frequently have to tell people that “Oh my God” is not the casual expression they have been led to believe it is. It certainly doesn’t surprise me that non-believers would so disrespect God, but it pains me when I hear Christians doing so without even thinking what they are doing. As a society we are very weak on the whole concept of holiness. When we forget the holiness of God, the idea of personal holiness in daily living becomes quite foreign and strange, to the point that it takes real courage for a true believer to stand up and be different from their peers. However, a lack of courage is no excuse not to honor God as holy. Other people are never an excuse for our own actions, whatever Moses said.

I’ve “gone with the flow” more times than I care to think about, so I should have good empathy with those around me who are struggling in this area. However, empathy doesn’t mean excusing. I am to speak the truth in love, even when people feel their toes are stepped on. Japan doesn’t have a tradition of verbal misuse of God’s name, so that isn’t much of an issue over here, but as they say, actions speak louder than words. I need to help people understand that their participation in non-Christian religious ceremonies and festivals must be with the utmost caution. I don’t refuse to attend funerals because they are Buddhist, but I decline to burn incense at them, even though it is expected. I attend the summer festival, but do not clap my hands in front of the portable shrines. Pressures are higher on those who were raised in non-Christian homes and who are the only believers in their families. I am to be a support and encouragement to them, and help them understand just how big an issue it is.

Father, may my life indeed help people understand Your holiness. May I trust You enough to lead others to trust You as well. May I not blame anyone else for my failures, but repent before You and receive Your gracious forgiveness, so that You may be honored as holy indeed. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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