Yesterday, Sunday June 5, we observed and celebrated the Feast of Weeks or, as it is referred to in Hebrew, Shavuot (also known as Pentecost). According to Jewish tradition, Shavuot commemorates the day when the Almighty descended upon Mount Sinai in fire and gave His instructions, the Torah, to the people of Israel. Having delivered them from Egyptian bondage, He brought them to the mountain to deliver to them a better way of life. So then, Shavuot serves to remind us that God has called and distinguished Israel as a “holy nation and kingdom of priests” — that is to say, His representatives on earth.
From that moment and throughout the generations, all who have called upon the LORD and have joined themselves to Him in the covenant of faith have, in a sense, borne His Name. That means we are identified as His and, as such, are entrusted with His reputation. Look at this way: right or wrong, people will commonly form an opinion about you based on what they see your children do simply because your children bear your name. Likewise, when we proclaim that we are His, people will make a judgment about our God based on what we say, how we say it and, most importantly, what we do. That doesn’t mean His holiness is compromised by our failures but it does mean that our failures can taint His reputation among those already looking for an excuse not to serve Him.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the Torah cautions us to be careful about how we treat others, including those regarded as strangers to the faith. In fact, in Jewish thought, it would be better to deal falsely with a brother in the faith than to do so with one who is not. The thinking is that if we offend a brother, he will rail against us. On the other hand, if we deal falsely with an unbeliever, he will rail against us, against God’s people at large and, most importantly, against our God. So again we are reminded that we are the guardians of His reputation in this world. Therefore, we must always conduct ourselves in a manner that sanctifies His Name and, especially, in the sight of those who are not considered His people.
When Messiah commissioned His disciples to be His witnesses, He specified they were to start in Jerusalem and Judea but were also to reach out to those in Samaria and, eventually, the entire world (Acts 1:8).
In other words, all who His are to be a light to those who are like us, to those who don’t like us and to those we don’t like. The stark reality is this: our actions and attitudes can play a determining role in whether or not others see God in a positive light. Let’s put it this way: How do others feel about God after meeting you? How do you handle His reputation when dealing with your brother and those in the world?
Scripture teaches, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20-21). Therefore it is imperative that, as ambassadors and representatives of the God of Israel, we treat everyone with respect and consideration. Furthermore, in every situation, we must do what is just and honorable regardless of what everyone else does. Remember, His reputation has been placed in your hands, and so, handle it with care. Be blessed.
Blessings and Shalom,
Bill & Beth