Monthly Messages from Sally Weiesnbach, Ark Founder & Director of Operations
While we look at how loving one another as Jesus loves us helps us meet all the ten commandments and the one commandment of Jesus, April’s message has us looking at Exodus 20:7 (CSB): “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”
Taking the Lord’s name in vain is often understood to describe cursing. Both the Old and New Testaments speak to this. The New Testament even instructs believers to “Be filled with the Spirit, and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”(Ephesians 4:30) There’s more to it than just using God’s name when cursing. This commandment also means loving each other the way Jesus loves us. How?
Today, the phrase is generally used for words spoken with disrespect, or without thought to their consequences…
Taking the Lord’s name in vain, then, is more than simply speaking irreverently about God or His name—it is about speaking without regard for the impact your words may have on yourself and on others. The ancient Israelites were forbidden from using the name of the Lord casually and with disregard. Today also, we should honor the Lord in our speech and the way our behavior “speaks” to others about Him.
These days, taking the Lord’s name in vain often looks like expressing frustration or carelessness, such as saying “Oh my God” after spilling a cup of coffee or “Good Lord” in response to a difficult situation. Other forms of taking the Lord’s name in vain include claiming that “God told me” to do something just to convince someone else of our choice, opinion, or attitude. On the other hand, taking the Lord’s name in vain could be mocking believers who claim to have received a special message from Him when we weren’t there and we don’t know what God did or didn’t tell anyone else. Taking the Lord’s name in vain can also look like the obvious – speaking ill of God with blasphemous words and phrases or using the Lord’s name as part of a curse.
It is important for us to understand that taking the Lord’s name in vain is more than just about our words. We can take His name in vain by how we live our lives. We show disrespect to the Lord’s name when we do things that we know He would not want us to do. We take His name in vain when our actions, words, and attitudes disobey Him and when we mistreat or speak badly to those we say we love.
Jesus never took the Lord’s name in vain and He never took anyone else’s name in vain either. He loved everyone – even those with whom he disagreed – by being kind, respectful, truthful, and committed to our welfare. When we are kind, respectful, truthful, and committed to the welfare of each other, we will love each other the way Jesus loves us and avoid the vain use of God’s name.
When it comes to taking the Lord’s name in vain, the primary theme is that of disrespect and carelessness—we should not speak of or behave as if God’s name is a mere habit. We must always be mindful that God is the Creator, sustainer, and sovereign Lord over all. Our words and deeds should reflect that. We are called to show reverence for our Creator and to honor Him and His creation with our lips as well as our lives and our relationships.
Exodus 20:7 (CSB): “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”
Leviticus 19:12 (NLT) “Do not bring shame on the name of your God by using it to swear falsely. I am the LORD.”
Matthew 6:9 (CSV) “Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
Ephesians 4:29-30 (NIV) “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”