Imagine a few scenarios with me for a little while:
Scenario 1. You have recently married the man or woman of your dreams. Your wedding was everything you wanted it to be–elegant yet simple. After a day of vows and celebration, you leave as a new Mr. and Mrs. and spend a week or so relaxing and getting to know one another on a more intimate level. You are provided all the comforts and luxuries one could ask for. Your meals are prepared for you. There are no dishes to do or beds to make or bathrooms to clean. All that will come soon enough, but for this week, it is just you and your new spouse starting out on a brand new journey together. A journey, that is done God’s way, should last for the rest of your lives. “Till death do us part” is not just a trite saying at a wedding. It is part of a vow, and God takes vows very seriously. Upon your return home, perhaps to a new place for one or both of you, you begin to learn how to live with this person you are madly in love with. Of course it will take some time, but eventually you will fall into a rhythm that works, balancing the duties of jobs that will pay the rent with time spent together continuing the growth that started on the honeymoon. One day, several months after your wedding day, your best friend contacts you and asks if you want to get together with “the gang” for pizza and wings (or lattes and scones–your choice). You ask your spouse if he or she would mind. “Of course not,” they say. “It will be fun for you to get together with the guys (or girls).” So, off you go for some friend time. The conversation of course settles around your new marriage and how things are going and how was the honeymoon. You are excited to tell how much in love you are and how marriage is something that can only be understood if experienced. You glow when you talk about your new husband (or wife) and maybe you even get teased a bit about it. Then, for some reason, one of your friends says something about your new spouse that doesn’t settle well with you. Perhaps it is something from the past that has long been forgotten. You bristle a bit at the comment but say nothing. But the talk continues until you find yourself getting angry at your friend for saying something that isn’t nice about this person who you just promised to spend the rest of your life with–this person you love more than any other in the world!
Scenario 2: You are now a mom (or dad). Your firstborn, the once tiny baby you held in your arms and rocked at all hours of the night, is now a big five year old and has playmates that live in the surrounding houses. Every day you do the work required of you while at the same time keeping a watchful eye over your treasured child. You enjoy watching the fun had as the children all play together. Then, one Saturday afternoon, you are standing in the kitchen and your child comes in, tears running down that precious little face. You quickly stop what you are doing and bend down to wipe away the tears and inspect for cuts or bruises. You see none so you ask why the child is crying. In heartbreaking sobs, your child tells you that Johnny next door, who is actually a full year older, called him or her a bad name. You hold your child close and tell him that Johnny shouldn’t have said that and it isn’t true. After a little while of soft talk and hugs, your child feels better and heads back out to play. As an adult, you know kids can be mean and that most likely it will all blow over and not happen again. But it does happen again. And again. And again. Now, you realize this has gone beyond childish ways and has moved into something more serious–something that, if not taken care of, could leave lasting impressions on your child.
In both of the above scenarios, I assume you would quickly come to the defense of the one you love. Whether it be your spouse, your child, or any other person you hold dear, most of us would not sit idly by and allow someone else to verbally assault someone we love time and time again. You may correct the adult friend by coming to the defense of your spouse, proclaiming how much he or she has changed or how he or she is working hard to overcome what was once a bad habit. You may go and talk to Johnny or his parents and explain that words do hurt. Perhaps you have to insist on a period of separation, not allowing Johnny to be at your home nor allowing your child at his to play together until Johnny can use words that don’t hurt. These are things that come natural to us. When we really love someone, we do not speak badly about them–either in front of them or behind their backs–nor do you stand for others doing that.
Let me give you another scenario–one that recently happened to me; one I am ashamed that I did not handle like I should have…
Fairly recently I was with a group of people. None of them were strangers to me, although I wouldn’t classify any of them as close friends or family. They are, though, good people. They are fun to be around and there are some commonalities shared among us. There were several conversations taking place simultaneously within the group. While I was conversing with a couple of the people, the person near me was saying something to some of the others. In his course of dialogue, while trying to make a point, he used a word that is not part of my vocabulary–not because I don’t know or understand it, but because it is a word that offends God. In fact, it is a word that clearly takes God’s name in vain, something forbidden in the Bible. As the word echoed in my ears and head, I found myself upset at its use. This word, while commonly used by many to emphasize what they are saying, is still a slander against the God I try to live for, the God that I say I love more than anyone else in my life.
Yet…I said nothing.
I did nothing.
I didn’t stop my conversation and address the person, politely of course, and say that I didn’t appreciate how he had slandered the God I love and live for. If that person had said something similar about my husband or one of my children, you can be sure I would have stopped what I was saying and corrected him on the spot. I would not have put up with someone using such words when referring to my husband or children.
But I didn’t stand up for God. I didn’t come to His defense like I would have for my human loved ones. Not that God needs me to come to His defense. I know that. But, if I claim to love Him more than any earthly possession, why is it that I don’t speak up when someone takes his name in vain? Is it embarrassment at maybe being the only one in the group that sees something wrong with the word? Is it fear that I will be singled out as too conservative or legalistic? Is it the fact that I have become desensitized to the way that many people refer to my Savior? Is it apathy? I would have to admit that at different times, it is all of the above. I also have to admit, then, that this makes me
almost Pharisaical. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for saying one thing while living something completely different. In this instance, if I say I love God more than anything, yet stand idly by while someone takes his name in vain, then I am saying one thing yet living another.
You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. ~Exodus 20:7
And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; ~Mark 7:6
Forgive me, Lord, for not standing up for you,the perfect One, the Creator, and for your awesome name.