David Kolander

A Name Tag on Your Heart

by David Kolander on June 16th, 2019
Numbers 6:22-27

Do you wear name tags like this very often? Do you know that there is a special protocol about how to wear a name tag? A publication of the United States Chamber of Commerce says the proper place to place your name tag is on the right sight of your shirt or jacket or blouse – on the opposite side of your heart. Do you know why that it is? If you do, then you know that when someone shakes your hand and introduces themselves to you, the natural place that their eyes are looking at is your right side, so their line of vision will immediately see who what your name is. They will immediately know who you are. And that’s the whole point of wearing a name tag. It helps people know who you are.

When in our lesson for today God told Moses to tell his brother Aaron the High Priest of God to put his name on the children of Israel whenever they gathered for worship, it seems like Aaron was giving the people a spiritual name tag so that they themselves could know who they were. The only thing is that this name tag was not to ever be away from their heart. It was to be right on their heart. On this Trinity Sunday, when we think about the Three-in-One God who for thousands of years has given this three-part blessing of his name to his people, I pray every time you as God’s people hear these words you can remember that you have a very special name tag — “A Name Tag on Your Heart.”

One thing that is interesting to me about how God laid out the Bible is that the words of this blessing are spoken right before God talks about all the offerings which the leaders of the people brought when the tabernacle they worshiped in during all the wandering in the wilderness got dedicated – offerings of gold dishes and silver plates and fragrant incense and bulls and rams and oxen and goats. The only way we can have any desire to give the offerings of our money and our time and our energies and our talents and all of ourselves to the Lord is to know who we are – to know the name tag he has placed on our heart. So, especially if you feel your life of serving God has become a ho-hum, not a big deal thing, or if you wonder where you can get the power or energy to do more for your Lord and others, then listen to the three different things God says about who you are – and about how you are blessed – by having the name of Triune God written right on your heart.

“The Lord bless you and keep you.” That word “keep” refers to someone watching and guarding us.. Wouldn’t it be great to have a personal body guard – someone to make sure you get through the day safe and sound? Well, God got you here this morning, right? During the night the roof above your head stayed above your head. When you got up this morning, you safely navigated out of your bed. When you ate your Honey Nut Cheerios or your coffee and toast, you did not choke on your food. When you got into your car, you didn’t shut the door on your leg. When you drove to church, you were able to park your car in a parking stall that didn’t sink beneath you and swallow you up. Now those are things we may of course just take for granted and wonder why I would even mention something like that. But isn’t that the point? How can we really take even the simplest thing for granted? If God were not our personal body guard every single second of every single day, you and I would not even have the ability to put one foot before the other and walk even one little inch.

Isn’t that also what the setbacks of life remind us of, when things don’t go the way I just mentioned? The car doesn’t always act the way we want. Sometimes we do hurt our leg. A lot of times we cry or get frustrated because a lot of bad things happen. What a reminder those bad times are of how much we depend on God to get through each day – and how much he does get us through each day, even when we suffer, because he is always blessing and keeping us in some way. That’s something you can know when you have a name tag on your heart that says the Lord is blessing and keeping you. That is who you are – a person with God the Father as your Body Guard, who provides for you and watches over you every single step of the way every single day. That is his promise to you – and he has put his Name on it.

“The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.” Wouldn’t it be great if every day was a bright day, full of sunshine and warmth? The picture behind those words “make his face shine” is that of a new day starting – of things getting light and bright after the dreary, dark night. That kind of feeling in our hearts about every day of our lives being that kind of cheerful day comes from knowing the Lord has been gracious to us – that our Lord – God the Son — is like an eternal spiritual sunshine machine.

You know, though, if we did have a body guard twenty-four hours a day, that body guard would know a lot of bad things about us, wouldn’t you say? God is with us 24/7. What do you think he knows and thinks about how bright and sun-shiny our life of serving him is? I don’t really want to think about that, but you and I must think about that, because that is how we can know how great it is that the Lord who should make every day dark night for us instead makes every day a bright and beautiful day by not doing what he should do to us – by instead being gracious to us – by putting on our hearts the name tag that means I can know that for me and for my sin Jesus went to that cross. No matter that my name should be dirt, Jesus my Savior lifts me up by telling me in his Word that his name is my name – and that I will be forever his, since his name is forever on my heart. That is who you are – a person with God the Son – the Light of the World — making every day a day of his grace and love. That is God’s promise to you – and he has put his name on it.

“The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Wouldn’t it be great to have someone with us every day whose sole job it was to make sure that everyone liked us and in that way to let us be at total peace in our world? Sometimes we may wonder if God likes us, right? Sometimes we wonder if God should like us. Sometimes we have to be very ashamed because we do not give any impression that we like or love him. But when you know who you are because of the name tag you are wearing on your heart, you can know that you have a God who much more than likes you – he has turned his face toward you and has given you peace.

You may be well aware – or not – that these words would have made the people who first heard them think of a King or a Monarch who could determine the fate of a subject by whether he turned his face away from the person to deny his request or turned his face toward the person to grant his request, which often mean his life would be spared. We don’t need someone to be with us every day to make sure God likes us, because for the sake of what Jesus our Lord has done for us, God is always turning his face toward us. He is always granting our request when we pray, “Lord, have mercy on us and give us your peace.” He is always looking on us with his favor and giving us peace – the peace of knowing that this blessing of God is not just a bunch of holy-sounding words that don’t mean anything. They are the holy words of the holy God which give us exactly what they are saying. They give us the protection of God the Father as a body guard for our bodies and our souls. They give us the grace of God the Son as someone who makes every day a bright new day for us by telling us he has forgiven our sins. And they give us the peace of God the Holy Spirit by giving us the faith to see the face of God in the wounded side and open hands of Jesus – that face which is always turned toward us in love. That is God’s promise to you – and he has put his name on it.

Have you had the experience where no matter how securely you think you have put that name tag on the right – or left – side of your shirt, the sticky stuff just isn’t enough to keep it in place and it keeps falling off or gets all crinkled up? That is exactly what Satan wants to happen to the name tag on our heart — something that we ourselves often add to by acting like we don’t want to be recognized for who we are as people of the Lord – and maybe even trying to tear off that name tag of being a child of God. What is the way to keep that name tag right where God wants it?… Keep having God put his name on you again and again.

You can do that by beginning each day remembering that this is a new day of God’s love because one day you had his name placed on you with the water of your baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Almost every time you come to church, you can remember that the sins by which we defame the name of the Lord will not cause God to punish you, because the Lord has been gracious to you by having someone say to you, “I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And when you leave this house of God – or when you are sitting in your own house – you can end that worship service – or end your day – by letting that name be placed on you by being reminded that the Father protects you like a body guard, that the Son has redeemed you with precious blood, and the Holy Spirit has given you peace by giving you the faith that makes you part of the family of the almighty God himself. So, the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace. You don’t have to worry about what side that name tag is on. God himself has placed it on your heart, because through Jesus Christ God knows exactly who you are! Amen.

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