Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” – King James Version (KJV)
“You shall not make wrong use of the name of the LORD your God; the LORD will not leave unpunished the man who misuses his name.” – The New English Bible”
You shall not use the name of Jehovah your God irreverently, nor use it to swear to a falsehood. You will not escape punishment if you do.” – The Living Bible ~ all scripture from Exodus 20:7
“Why do you do that?” he asked.
“Why do you get upset when she says, ‘Oh my god’?”
We were watching a home renovation show on television and the owner of the house was being introduced to the newly remodeled home. The homeowner said it about 20 times, each time she saw something new in the rooms.
I responded, “It bugs me. First, it is totally rude and disrespectful to God and second, could she not come up with something more creative to say – at least once?”
He responded, “I don’t see why it’s such a big deal.”
“Well,” I said, “It is. God says it pretty clearly in His Word, we are not to misuse His name. I didn’t make the rules, He did. I can’t help it. I am sure it is the Holy Spirit in me that causes me to react in this way; it grieves Him. When I hear God’s name being used in vain, when it is me or others, it really unsettles me. ”
It was later in the day that I thought about this further. Generally speaking, profanity or cursing never really bothered me much before I became a follower of Jesus Christ. I considered it rude, and certainly unprofessional – but it was not really a personal insult to me. Sometimes it was me using the words. Invariably, it still is me who slips and says something tasteless and inappropriate.
But what does God say about this?
Actually, He has a lot to say about it in the scriptures….what comes out of my mouth is a reflection of my heart.
Condemned. The Oxford dictionary defines this to mean a particular punishment; death. That explanation is crystal clear.
Defiled. The dictionary defines this word to mean to sully, mar or spoil. Further it notes that it is to desecrate or make profane something sacred. When I use the name of God inappropriately I am profaning Him. When I use foul words, I am also desecrating something sacred.
That point brings it home. As God has made man in His image and God is sacred; well then He intended that His creation be as well. As we know our ancestors Adam and Eve ruined that for mankind, but God sent Jesus as propitiation for sins. So if I am in Christ and He is in me – that means He is indwelling me with the Holy Spirit – who is also sacred!
God gave human beings the gift of language. Though there is no doubt many an anthropologist would argue the point – but He did NOT give animals, apes or the like, the same gift. When is the last time your dog asked you to give him his dinner?
But God did give us the use of our tongue as a means to communicate, and we are to use our remarkable ability to honour God. Whether we are singing or praying… Whether we are teaching; expressing love and friendship, inspiring others to greatness, assuaging pain in others or yes, just even mundanely chatting with a friend over coffee or answering the telephone at work. Speech is perhaps the greatest and most distinct ability God created in humans.
Even in writing this blog and exploring this idea it makes my heart race uncomfortably. What am I doing when I use my gift of language to bring shame to the Creator and creation He made? After all, was I not made to reflect Him?
To misuse God’s name is wrong. Period. In the book of Exodus, when Moses met God in the burning bush, he asked Him what His name was. “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”
God named Himself. He did not ask humans to name Him….and He didn’t say His name is Ishmael, Joe, or Pedro or Jacques or Rachel. His name is I AM. When we use His name, we are acknowledging His existence and calling on Him. God is the Father, Master and Creator. He is Alpha and Omega, everlasting and ever-present. The Hebrews, and even Orthodox Jews today did not/do not even speak or write His name, it will be written as G_D or YAWHEH or Jehovah.
As for taking God’s name in vain, according to Christian Apologetics Research Ministry the word vain translates to shav. It has a variety of translations including emptiness, vanity, falsehood, nothingness, emptiness of speech, lying, and worthlessness. To take God’s name in vain means literally, “to lift it up to or attach it to emptiness.”
He is HOLY – He is the maker of all things, He is all powerful, full of glory and goodness…..and yet we can thoughtlessly take that Name, the name above all names and use it as an exclamation or an expletive? We must remember whose name we are invoking! No one should use the Lord’s name in this manner. That includes the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.
So while I enjoyed watching the tv makeover show, it is really me that has been made over. As while even writing this blog I have realized the power of my tongue, the intent of God when He gave it to me and how important it is that I use this gift for His purpose, to praise and respect Him and reflect His greatness to others.
Lord I pray that you will always put a guard on my heart and my mouth, that you will use my words for life and not for death, that you convict me to the point of pain to bring me to repentance when I do not. Remind me to be always cognizant of how Holy your Name is and that when I call on it, that it will always be in praise and honour and Lord let me be found guiltless through the saving grace of your Son, Jesus when I someday meet you face to face. Let it be reflected in me, because of you that “she opens her mouth with wisdom,and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” I pray this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen
And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut off. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse.
1 Timothy 4:12
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
Above picture courtesy of ABC News.
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