Taking God’s Name in Vain: What’s the big deal?

Our God is the God of the impossible and Creator of the majestic, but He is also a God very present in the details, in the little things.

We show genuine love for God through obedience. God told His people that He would be happy if they obeyed Him and wrote commandments to prevent them from getting lost and straying away from Him. He didn’t want His children, whom He loved so dearly, to suffer because no one had taught them right from wrong. God never desired that they obeyed Him out of obligation or fear, but because they loved Him. That was why He created the law of love.

This Law has 10 precepts, but we will focus on the third one which says:

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Exodus 20:7

How many times throughout the day, when surprised, frustrated, or annoyed, we exclaim: “Oh my God!” or one of its variations (Gosh! Jeez! OMG!, etc.)? The name of the Lord is holy and should never be spoken irreverently. The term “in vain” can be interpreted as “empty”. A heart full of reverence for the name of the Lord will avoid the careless, irreverent, frivolous, and unnecessary use of that Holy name.

This commandment also applies to oaths or perjury. Truth and respect must guide our words. Whoever has truth on their lips, doesn’t need to swear for people to believe them. “I swear to God,” some say. This lack of reverence when pronouncing our Father’s name shows emptiness and disregard for such sacred things.

When we pray, we speak to God as a friend. He is attentive to our words and if we speak to Him like this: “Lord, I thank you. Lord, take care of me. Lord, give me this, give me that. Lord… Lord!” Think about it, would you like someone to talk to you and keep repeating your name in every sentence? Even when we speak to our Father, we should refrain from repeating His holy name. That is also taking the name of the Lord in vain! An empty offering doesn’t please Him who is worthy of all honor, praise, and reverence.

Reverence should be shown also for the name of God. Never should that name be spoken lightly or thoughtlessly. Even in prayer its frequent or needless repetition should be avoided. “Holy and reverend is His name.” Psalm 111:9. Angels, as they speak it, veil their faces. With what reverence should we, who are fallen and sinful, take it upon our lips!

Education, p. 243

Do we sometimes dishonor God in common conversation? Someone always has a joke that treats the Creator with levity. It displeases Him and saddens His tender heart.

We must revere God’s name, and we must also revere the Bible, the revelation of His will. We cannot treat it as an ordinary book, because it isn’t.

We should reverence God’s word. For the printed volume we should show respect, never putting it to common uses, or handling it carelessly. And never should Scripture be quoted in a jest, or paraphrased to point a witty saying. “Every word of God is pure;” “as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” Proverbs 30:5Psalm 12:6.

Education, p. 244

These are small phrases; they may seem insignificant, but we must take them seriously for God’s honor and glory and for our own happiness in this world and the next. Our Father doesn’t always ask of us great things, but He always asks us to value small ones.

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