Have you ever wanted to speak truth, but were afraid if you did, you’d be left with no friends in the room? That’s where I’m at today. Hands filled to the brim with truth, but unable to form the words because well…I like having friends.
Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:7
Key Verse: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7
But by God’s grace, at this stage in the race, I care more about pleasing my heavenly Father than invites to parties. At least most days. It also might help that I’m an introvert and enjoy sitting on my couch, so I’ve pressed on.
But truth be told, it’s taken me two weeks to write this devotional and it’s over one verse. Which verse has me so tied up in knots I’m concerned about losing friends you ask? The third commandment.
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7
And there it is. Straight forward. Simple. Yet, we are. God’s name is being vainly proclaimed with a vengeance. Whether the commandment has simply been forgotten, misunderstood, or intentionally set aside, I’m not sure. But it’s a blatant problem.
We could otherwise state the commandment as, don’t use God’s name in an empty way, void of who He is, without reverence, without meaning, without purpose.
You can pick the situation – they all fit. Whether in the court of law or by way of promise (I swear by all that is holy…) or in the backyard, or on the couch, or in a church pew when our mouth is singing one thing and our mind is somewhere else, it doesn’t matter. God says here – don’t take my name in vain.
But there it is every time I turn the TV on or peruse social media or go out in public. It’s even been given its own abbreviation – OMG. And it’s wrong. To toss God’s name about as though it’s nothing more than an empty expression of disbelief, we might as well go bury our Bible’s in the mud. Because that’s basically what we’re doing – tossing God’s character to the wayside.
You see His name is more than just a name. It describes who He is, embracing the holiness of His character. In Exodus 34 when God proclaims His name to Moses he doesn’t just use one word. He uses a description. “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but will by no means clear the guilty” (v. 6-7).
And since there is only one true and living God this is whom we’re addressing when we flippantly type OMG in a text or a Facebook response. This is who we’re dragging through the mud. (Forgive us Father.) In fact, we’ve gotten so lax we’ll watch television shows that abuse it relentlessly and still call it the best show of the season with the argument that we weren’t the one actually saying it. But so what if we didn’t say it, didn’t it just get piped into our homes at volume thirty-three? And we took it, without even a flinch.
It’s interesting though, because the third commandment does not keep us from using God’s name at all. It simply says not to use it empty. In fact, we’re to use God’s name in many ways, just not without reverent purpose.
We’re to praise the name of the LORD all day long. (Ps. 148:3) “For his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven” (Ps. 148:13).
We’re to bless the name of the LORD. (Ps. 113:2)
We’re to call on the name of the LORD when we need help. (Ps. 116:4)
We’re to fight evil in the name of the LORD. (Ps. 118:10)
We’re to give thanks in the name of the LORD. (Ps. 122:4)
Not to mention, we’re to baptize in the name of the LORD. Proclaim the name of the LORD in word and deed and speech. “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” (Col. 3:17). And trust in the name of the LORD (Ps. 20:7). For “the name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (Prov. 18:10).
It’s a gracious God to give us the use of His name! Christ even said we can ask things of God, in his name! (John 14:13-14) Um, that’s A-mazing.
Just don’t do it in an empty way, says the LORD, without reverent measure for what you’re saying. For, “Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness” (Ps. 145:3, NLT).
No one. It’s beyond comprehension. So value me, says God. Hold my name in high esteem and use it accordingly. Otherwise, and here is the warning, beware, “for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Ex. 20:7b).
Our words have consequences. In Matthew 12:36 Jesus says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” Every careless word, including the use of His name.
For there is no other name by which we can be saved! (Acts 4:12) But now I’m really going to meddle. (Please still invite me over for dinner.)
Did you know gosh is a euphemism for God? It’s not just a nice little substitute. The word origin of gosh is God. But there’s more. Do you know what a euphemism is? Yeah, I didn’t either. So I did what all good researchers do, I googled it. And found out a euphemism is “a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.”
And then I melted ten feet into the floor. (Guilty.) Is God unpleasant or embarrassing? Or is the use of his name unpleasant? It is a strong tower! The name of our God is wonderful! The name of our God is to be praised!
“Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory!” (Ps. 72:19)
And may His name be spoken with the worth He deserves.
Contemplate and Evaluate:
Does it bother you to hear God’s name taken in vain?
As a believer, what parameters have you put in place to help you uphold the name of the LORD?
On the flip-side, what allowances have you made regarding the third commandment? Are there changes you need to make?