“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” Exodus 20:7
Doesn’t it seem like there are a lot of sins that are worse than being careless with the name of God? Why does this one matter?
I used to not give much thought to this commandment. I would never confess it when I went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation because I didn’t think it was a big deal. I can remember different times in my life when I have been excited or suppressed and I would yell out, “Oh my God!” One time I was walking barefoot in my parents’ house and stubbed my pinkie toe on the couch. It was so painful that the only thing I could say was the Lord’s name as an explicative. I hear it all the time coming from people when they use the name “Jesus” as a response to bad things happening. As if it could be used as a synonym for any non-holy word or explicative
What’s in a Name?
The concept of having a name is an interesting thing. Don’t you think? A name is one of the most basic necessities we possess. Think about it. Without a name we would not be able to differentiate one person from another. How different would your interactions with other people be if there were no such thing as names?
A name is given to you at birth so that we can know ourselves to be different from someone else when you are called upon. You give your name to other people so that they can invoke your attention or associate a thought or an action with your personhood. Your name is important because of the fact that you are important, because you are created in the image and likeness of God.
As we read in Isaiah 49:16, “See, upon the palm of my hands I have written your name.” God places a lot of importance upon names in scripture. When a person encounters God and is changed, God gives that person a new name. Not all names are the same though. There is one name that is set aside. There is one name that is as important as what it represents. That name is the name of the Lord: Jesus, God, Lord, Messiah, King of Kings.
When He speaks our name, it is intentional. He calls out for our attention and love. Likewise when we speak His name it is to be intentional, so that we can address Him with our attention and return His love.
God’s name is powerful. To even speak it requires an encounter with the Holy Spirit. God gave us his name so that we can know him. He gave us his name so that when we speak it He listens, or call upon it and He delivers us and heals us. May you speak the name of the Lord just as He speaks yours, intentionally and with love.
How to Obey the Second Commandment
- Use words like “gosh” instead of carelessly using God’s name as an exclamation
- Clean up all of your speech by not making foul jokes or using crude language
- Do you hear others using God’s name lightly? Stand up for what you believe and say something!