When I was a kid and faced with the potential consequences ("consequences" nothing...I mean I was faced with getting punished!) for my actions, there was often that moment that every kid dreads. I had to tell my dad or mom what I did. Now look, they already knew what I did; they were teaching me to own what I did. Anyway, at those fateful and fearful moments, my dad would often say “tell the truth and shame the devil!” This was never easy to hear for it reminded me that God is pleased with truth and the devil is pleased with lies, and even though lying seemed like a “get out of jail free” card, it was really an “out of the frying pan and into the fire” card. Guidelines are easier when you are a kid. As adults, how well do we do when faced with the gray areas and the white lies of life? Do we have resolve? Is it strong? What is it based upon? Can God bless us when in those gray areas?
So often when people think about the Bible, they think of an ancient book full of rules given by a God who was jealous and angry in the Old Testament, and they think about Jesus as a representation of love and kindness in the New Testament. Our present social culture has decided that any necessary rules and guidelines can simply come from within each of us and that we don’t need any ancient book telling us here in this age of knowledge and reason what to do! Well, is the ancient wisdom right or are we?
"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." It is one of the Ten Commandments, so it must be important. But, what does it really mean? Is it just about the words we use or is there more to it than that? Can our thoughts and actions also be a manifestation of taking God’s name in vain? What is the end result of carelessly handling God’s name? How do we become more aware of ourselves so we hold the name of God with reverence, honor and respect?
Humans are emotional beings. As this is the case, we want things – we don’t just have an instinctual magnetism towards certain things, we truly desire them. The Tenth Commandment said, “Thou shalt not covet.” Does this mean that the seemingly inborn trait to desire is wrong – against God’s Law? If it is wrong, then why is it built into each of us? Stay with us as we try to truly understand human “coveting” and the role it plays – or doesn’t play - in our Christian lives.
In general conversation, we often hear people use the name of Jesus and the name of God in very inappropriate ways. The sad thing is that it is so common we may sometimes not even notice it, or we may dismiss it without a second thought. Are these phrases disrespectful? Yes. Are they unfortunate? Yes. The question is - is this what is meant by taking the Lord’s name in vain or is there more to it? Is taking the Lord’s name in vain an obvious thing, or is it something that can happen in much more subtle ways? Is it possible for those of us who claim to take the name of God seriously to actually take His name in vain? Stay with us as we seek clarity in understanding just what is meant by this commandment to not take His name in vain.