"No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won't put up with irreverent use of His name." ~Exodus 20:7, The Message
Nothing gets my goat like seeing protestors picketing the funerals of fallen servicemen and women, claiming that God hates "killers". Another horrific misrepresentation are those who do the same thing targeting homosexuals. My tendency has been to apply this third Commandment to cursing using God's name. But I don't think it gets more profane or offensive than misusing His name as a link to these false doctrines. C. Michael Patton put it well, " Using the name of the Lord in vain means that you do damage to His reputation and character through false and unsure claims." I couldn't agree more.
But this third Commandment is multi-dimensional. After spending most of the day yesterday studying it carefully, I can only share from my heart what hit home. My first example of breaking this Commandment was a bit easier, as I was focusing on others. Now, it gets more personal.
The last thing I want to do is speak in a way that dishonors or misrepresents God. But that's easier "said" than done. I need to be more careful when I open my mouth. For example, I would like to finally put to rest my knee-jerk reaction to use certain choice words when I stub a toe...or get so angry I could scream. The habit of swearing I developed during my college years is a tough one to break...even thirty years later!
But there's more. I think back on times when I shared something I felt strongly was a message from God, wording it as if His voice was as audible as my own. No, I don't have a phone number or email address that puts me through to the throne of God. The way God communicates with me is not a written message etched in stone like the Ten Commandments. I need to be more careful how I share my personal experiences. I don't want to risk misrepresenting Him in the process. A more appropriate lead-in would be, "Today I sensed that God was saying...", or "I believe God was telling me that...".
Finally, and maybe most importantly, I want to grab hold of a deeper reverence toward Almighty God that I, for one, have been lacking. It's so easy to treat Him casually, like a buddy or a pal. But He is SO much more. And I wonder the rippling effect it has when I fail to pay Him the respect and honor He deserves. John Piper said, "God, Christ, the cross, the things he is and the things he did are great, and they're weighty. And there's a certain corresponding demeanor of worship that should be there." I agree. I believe that pondering this third Commandment is a critical stepping stone in my journey toward a life lived with more purpose and passion.
"People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brother and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can't draw fresh water from a salty spring."
~James 3: 7-12