Using God’s name in vain defames his reputation

In the third commandment, found in Exodus 20:7, we are told to take God’s name seriously: “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

Have you ever thought about that? This is serious. God will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Names are very important. A name represents reputation. We’ve all heard people say, “He’s making a name for himself.” When somebody has a good reputation, we say, “He’s got a good name.” When he’s got a bad reputation, we say, “He’s got a bad name.”

A person’s name automatically brings to mind the person’s reputation. Consider names like Adolph Hitler, Martin Luther King Jr., Elvis Presley and Billy Graham. With just the mention of a name, your mind immediately makes the connection between the name and the reputation.

Names also represent character. It is difficult to separate your name and your character once they are identified together. Do you remember how God would change someone’s name because there was a change in their character? Abram, Jacob and Simon would all be good examples.

Names represent authority. If I receive a telephone call from Mike Brown during dinner, I might send the call to voicemail and call him back later. But if I get a call from Mike Pence, the vice president of the United States, I would go ahead and squeeze the call in right then. Names are definitely important. They represent reputation, character and authority.

Whenever a person misuses God’s name, they are defaming his reputation, disrespecting his character and disregarding his authority. And yet, so many people continually misuse God’s name each and every day.

One of the most common ways his name is misused is through profanity or swearing. It is no secret, we live in a foul-mouthed nation. Movies, books, magazines and television are filled with profanity these days. Warning labels sometimes point to explicit language, profanity or adult content.

It has been said that weak people must use strong words to try to impress others. Anybody can swear. Swearing takes no emotional maturity whatsoever. It requires no intellect. The most uneducated person you know can swear.

It takes maturity to discipline your speech, especially when you’re angry. It takes discipline to control our words. By controlling our mouth, we are demonstrating maturity and self-control. Yet, many people use God’s name as an expression of profanity, to insult and express irritation. They misuse his name. More on that next time …

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