You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. - Exodus 20:7
Vain – 1) having or showing undue or excessive pride in one’s appearance or achievements; 2) marked by futility or ineffectualness: unsuccessful, useless; 3) having no real value: idle, worthless – Merriam-Webster
Have you ever wondered what this commandment really means? When I was a child, I was told that it was about vocabulary. It was a warning against the “GD” and “JC” exclamations all too familiar to us from various movies. Certainly, these (as well as many others) are vile and repulsive to our God, but I think the command goes much deeper than a mere vocal expression and really ties in to the crux of the FLOW series we are doing here at the church.
So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
Says the Lord who does all these things. - Acts 15:17
Did you catch that? Those of us who are in Christ are called by His name and therefore have “taken” his name. This commandment may well be a warning not to take His name and then do nothing with it. It is so easy to fall into an inward focus, concerning ourselves primarily with “Godly behavior” and refining our thought life. These are worthy efforts, but is that all there is? Is my salvation only for me? Does this commandment require us to be effective to the world with our salvation? This commandment may just be one of the most difficult to keep as there seems to be a call to action, not just meditation.
Jesus (quoting Isaiah) spoke of it in Matthew 15:8-9
‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
Today, my brothers and sisters, may we seek the mind of Christ so that we may glorify Him in our lives and not fear that we have taken His name in vain.