What’s in a name? If you peruse a baby book, you can learn the meaning of each name. For example, Ethan means strong, firm; it has good implications, but a name does not determine character. Character makes a person’s name good, bad or something in-between. A person can make a name for himself, by good or bad actions, which results in a reputation. When you hear certain names, you immediately think of their reputation (Adolf Hitler, Martin Luther King, Lindsay Lohan or Johnny Manziel). A name may represent authority. If a name is preceded by a title such as President, King, Doctor, Reverend, Officer, General or many others our initial response is to respect the name. The individual’s character or reputation could prove to be lacking but still we recognize the authority of the name. God is the ultimate authority, perfect in character, reputation and honor. His name deserves our full respect and reverence. When we misuse God’s name in any way, form or fashion, we break the 3rd Commandment. God will not bless those who disrespect his name.
Ex 20:3, 4-5, 7; Tt 1:16; Isa 29:13; Mt 6:7; Mal 2:2; Ps 19:14, 29:2, 61:5; 2 Tim 2:19; Jn 16:23; Ac 4:12; Lk 6:45
“Do not misuse my name. I am the Lord your God, and I will punish anyone who misuses my name.” (Ex 20:7).
There are many ways in which God’s name is misused. We insult God when we use his name to express irritation or anger. It doesn’t take any intelligence to swear, but it takes an understanding of who God is to know why we shouldn’t. Some people misuse God’s name to validate their decisions. God told me to quit my job, leave my wife, or whatever. We tend to think people will be less likely to critique our actions if we say God told us to do it. Similarly, we use God’s name to intimidate people. God wanted me to tell you this or God expects you to do that. If God is really involved, these conversations are about the truth in love, but when they are to wield power over another person, they are a misuse of God’s name. Some people use God’s name in an attempt to prove how spiritual they are. Everything is Hallelujah and Praise Jesus. If it really is the overflow of love for God, then great, but be careful. We use God’s name to express surprise or fear. We have SMS and textese for such expressions. Impulsively using God’s name is disrespectful. God’s name is above all names. Use is wisely, respectfully with awe and reverence.
How does a person’s “given” name affect the way people respond to them? Why? Have you broken the 3rd Commandment this week? What substitutions do you use rather than “really” swearing? Are they acceptable in God’s sight? How does it make you feel to be in the midst of profane conversation? How do you respond to your children when they swear? Are you setting a good example for them, or just telling them to do as you say, but not as you do? What are two “expressions” that you need to cleanse from your vocabulary? Are there any acceptable expletives?
Check your words. Be accountable and eliminate the misuse of God’s name from your vocabulary. Keep a journal and track your progress. See if any of your friends and family notice the change.
Forgive me, Lord, for the many times when I have misused your name. Guard my mouth; let my words be honorable and my speech reflect the reverence due your name. I want to be pleasing to you, in Jesus Name, I pray, Amen.