“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” The guy that made that statement up either skipped junior high school or is an idiot!
Do you remember jr. high? I do ... with pain! Sticks and stones do break bones but bones heal. Words break hearts and those take a lot longer to heal … if they ever do.
It seems in jr. high people loved to make fun of each other’s names. I heard of a lady named Myrtlegene Grundlebutt. True name. Can you imagine her experience in school?
We do not like it when people make fun of our names. Your name represents YOU. It is the address to your soul. It is the access to you. It is your web address. It is what makes you turn in a crowd. It is your NAME.
If we zit-filled, pre-people, jr. highers protect our names from abuse, how much more would a holy God be offended and guard HIS name from misuse?
Read: Deuteronomy 5:6-11
6 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
7 "You shall have no other gods before [a] me.
8 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
11 "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
New International Version
What does it mean to take God’s name in vain? How do we misuse it?
The Hebrew word lashshaw means: “emptiness”, “vanity”, and “falsehood”. The command literally reads: “You shall not lift up the name of the Lord your God lashshaw (vainly, in an empty manner, with falsehood). The word in this form appears only 5 other times in the OT. All in Jeremiah. The word is used of people trying to accomplish some form of action that is “in vain” because the outcome is already decided. Consider just one example:
What are you doing, O devastated one? Why dress yourself in scarlet and put onIn this example, no matter what Israel did she was not going to win over the other nations. Israel had gone too far and was going to be judged. No way around it. So, her attempts at controlling the situation were lashshaw since the matter was already decided.
jewels of gold? Why shade your eyes with paint? You adorn yourself in vain.
Your lovers despise you; they seek your life.
So, how do we take the name of the Lord “in vain”? How do we use the name of the Lord in an empty manner?
*To use the name of the Lord loosely and without reverence. This is where the “no cussing” policy comes from.
*To use his name repeatedly in prayer believing that the repetition will actually have some effect is to use his name in an empty manner.
*To use God’s name in prayer without thinking.
*To sing worship songs without thinking through the words or who we are singing to can be a form of using the Lord’s name vainly.
*To throw his name around with our friends without thinking about what it means.
*To attach the name of the Lord to any venture (no matter how noble) that he is not leading or blessing is to use his name in vain. To treat him like a genie in a bottle or pixie dust.
*Using WWJD bracelets as a sales tool to ingratiate yourself to others … or any other means of attaching God wrongly to our sales / marketing efforts that he is not truly a part of!
You can tell that this hits a lot closer to home then making sure we do not say OMG or any other disrespectful way our culture misuses God’s glorious name.
The offender of will not be excused (v. 11b)!
Are you careful with the Name of your God? Do you approach him with reverence and awe? Does he command your respect? How big is your view of God?
Have you attached God’s name to things without thinking through the consequences of doing so? Are you guilty of using God’s name in an empty way?
Have you sung songs or prayed without thought of whom you are addressing?
Take some time to reflect, thank God for grace and forgiveness and ask him to help you protect his name.
Sticks and stones may break bones but words really can hurt you!
DevoLink: Devotions to help you Link with God.