USING THE LORD'S NAME IN... VAIN John Poitevint / February 20, 2022
“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 (NKJV).
The Ten Commandments are pretty straightforward. Nine of them for sure…”Don’t kill; don’t steal; don’t lie; don’t commit adultery; etc. You know them all. The problem is not that we don’t understand them. It’s the keeping them that is hard.
One of the Commandments is a bit difficult to translate and not surprisingly, is often misunderstood. The KJV translators put it like this: “Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord Thy God in Vain…” (Exodus 20:7). For most folks, (particularly in the South), that commandment is simple---Just don’t say, “G** D***.”
If we look closely, from the Hebrew Bible, it is the intent of this verse we need to be careful of. You see, it’s not about cursing only. The Hebrew people had the utmost respect for God’s Name, so much so, that they wouldn’t even say it out loud; however, the heart of the Third Commandment is about using God’s Name for selfish purposes.
In today’s world, it is done, often and without realizing it---many use God’s Name in Vain! Sayings, such as, “If the Good Lord sees fit, and the creek doesn’t rise”, or “God is My Copilot”, etc., are sayings used especially by those in high offices, celebrities, athletes, and yes, even you and me. They are used especially when so many acknowledge God through public means to make others feel that the users are pious folks, when in reality, THEY ARE NOT. Sound familiar? At best, such folks, (we may be one of them from time to time), while maybe sincere, are misguided. They are demonstrating a woeful ignorance of this command from God.
Jesus did not take kindly to public displays of piety (Matthew 6:1-8), and if the Bible is as reliable as we all believe, then we should be careful how we use God’s name in our public opportunities. Jesus admonished his followers in His most famous sermon, as He lashed out at the “pray at the football game crowd…” , to pray in our closets and our Father in Heaven, “who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:4). He had similar instructions for our acts of charity, telling us not to let our right hand know what our left hand is doing. (Matthew 6:3).
Brethren, may God help us all to show reverence to His Name. Let us not take or use it in vain.