“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17, ESV)
In this issue of motives, we previously discussed that the believer’s primary motive was to glorify God. We saw this from 1 Corinthians 10:31. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV) We see a similar thought in Colossians where Paul wrote that the believer must do everything “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” So, there is a direct association between giving glory to God in everything we do and doing everything in the name of Jesus.
One of the problems that I see is that few Christians understand what it means to do something in the name of Jesus. We often tag every prayer with the phrase, “In the name of Jesus. Amen.” I am afraid that it becomes more of a meaningless mantra for many, just something they say because it is part of ending a prayer. This can be a dangerous enterprise for many.
Consider what happened in Ephesus to the seven sons of Sceva (Acts 19:11-20). in Ephesus, the Lord was working mightily through Paul. Many mighty works were being done in physical and spiritual healings. Apparently, the seven sons of Sceva had observed or heard of the works of Paul in delivering people from evil spirits. So, they, itinerant Jewish exorcists, set out to do the same and “undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.’” (Acts 19:13, ESV) The text states “the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?’” (Acts 19:15, ESV) Then the man who had the evil spirit leaped on the seven, overpowered them, giving them a good going over and they fled from him naked and wounded. What was the seven’s problem? They invoked the name of one they did not know.
Many in the world today invoke the name of a Savior that they really do not know. Moreover, too often, even true believers invoke the name of Jesus without giving any thought to the weight of His glorious name and what it means.
It should be easy for us to understand what doing something the name of Jesus means if we would bring this down to something familiar in the earthly realm. What would it mean if we did something in the name of a friend, family member or neighbor? One time we were in the process of purchasing a home and I had to be in Germany for a trade show. The closing was scheduled, and I was not going to be there. I had a “Limited Power of Attorney” created for my wife to transact all matters that involved me specifically in the purchase of this home. In other words, she was using my authority to execute things according to my will in the purchase of the home. Using this “Limited Power of Attorney” meant that she could only wield my power on the things I specified using the funds that I authorized along with her in our account.
Similarly, to do something in the name of Jesus implies that we are doing something by His authority given to us to do that which aligns with His will. In other words, we could never pray for or do something in His name that violated His supreme sovereign purposes. In prayer, we could never pray in the name of Jesus to have success in robbing a bank. We could never rob a bank in Jesus’ name. However, in his name we can pray or do things that align with His will for us. Moreover, in this arena of doing the will of Jesus, we also have the blessing of doing His will by His power working with us and through us (Phil 4:13).
This command to “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” is given in the context of our new position, identity, and life in Christ (Col 3:1-17). We see several manifestations of this that are summed up in the idea of doing all in the name of Jesus that characterize motives to glorify God. In everything we do as believers, we must do it in the name of Jesus and in doing so, we will bring glory and honor to God.