Did you ever get your mouth washed out with soap? I said something naughty when I was Em’s age or younger and, though I do not remember what I said, I sure remember the taste of Irish Spring…Abusive? No! But most certainly effective!
The soap incident only happened once, Praise the Lord, but I have allowed other things to escape my lips of which I am not proud. I used to think cussing was cool in Junior and Senior High. It wasn’t my primary mode of communication, but little bombs here and there. One genre I always steered clear of was the “G.D.’s” and “J.C.’s”. I had it pretty well in my head from a loose but present church upbringing that those were taboo. I would cringe when those were spewed on TV, a movie, or at athletic events. I even used to suggest alternatives to the person because it made me uncomfortable. I only partially understood why…
More recently, like within the last 10 years, when I have heard “the name of the Lord taken in vain” I’ve said to the stranger, “Wow! You must have a very close relationship with God to call on His name so: frequently, loudly, publicly, etc.” or “Is Jesus Christ your best friend? You sure call Him a lot!” It’s pretty effective…well, at least it flusters the person, so that’s kind of fun. Oh the facial expressions!
But, let me throw this out there…in Exodus chapter 20, verse 7, God is sharing the 10 Commandments with Moses. This particular commandment, the third specifically, follows God saying, 1 “You shall have no other gods before me”, and 2 “You shall not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth below. You shall not bow down to them and worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (emphasis mine) (BTW, that verse is another post someday…) The 3rd commandment reads, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” The translation a lot of people have grown familiar with is, “Do not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.” Interpreted by many with the understanding that cussing or swearing using “G.D.” or “J.C.” is what God meant in the text. I urge ALL to go way deeper, but also to take the commandment at face value…If we call ourselves followers of God, thus using His name, then aspire to live life accordingly…as a name bearer.
I personally don’t love it when the guy or girl next to me at the sporting event is shouting my Lord’s name. It’s obviously not fitting. Seriously, what does Jesus Christ have to do with that person’s anger over his or her favorite player choking on a lay up? Nothing! You just aren’t supposed to miss lay ups! My heart is more grieved that the person doesn’t know God’s character, His unconditional love, His grace and forgiveness. He or she thinks the name that is above all other names is a cuss word or flippant saying, not realizing its power.
Using the Lord’s name in vain is using it for our own selfish ambition, it’s having other gods before Him and worshipping false idols, but at the same time trying to secure Heaven safety not having a clue what a relationship with Him actually looks like. Misusing His name is talking His words but walking opposite of their commands and meanings. It’s living for our own purpose, not His will. Misusing the name the Lord is misrepresentation of His name. It’s like being a parent but neglecting your children. Calling yourself a pilot but not having a license. Claiming to be a tiger when you don’t have stripes. It’s lying. It’s not a call to perfection, but boy, if you or I are going to call ourselves followers of Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Alpha and Omega, the Lamb that was slain on a cross for the sins of the entire world, we probably should have pure intentions…
“God, please help me damn my selfishness.”
“Jesus Christ, I thank You for the grace to do it.”