Posts Tagged ‘disrespect’


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

The third command God gave to Israel has to do with how we represent Him as His people.

Taking God’s name in vain starts in the heart.  It is not just about saying curse words alongside Our Father’s Name.  It is that, but it is not merely that.  Taking God’s name in vain also includes religious hypocrisy, breaking vows or promises to God, and flippancy in regards to His Holy Name.

Firsty, hypocrisy.  When we wear the name of God as our identity, titling ourselves, “Christian,” we have a great responsibility to live up to that name.  This, because it is His name we bear, not our own.  We bear it only because of His grace.  By hypocrisy, we grossly misrepresent him, thus taking his good name in vain.

Think of a team.  If I wear the jersey and am given the great privilege and benefit that goes with being a professional athlete, but I choose to skip the games because I am busy doing something unrelated, how long will I have the title?  What if I help the other team while on the field?  Or say I’ll make the next play but do my own play instead and miss the shot entirely because of my own selfishness?

That is what Christians do when we claim the title and hope for the privileges and benefits (blessings and salvation) yet fail to obey the things we claim to believe and preach to others.  It is vain worship; vain religion, as Matthew Henry calls it saying, “Those that name the name of Christ, but do not depart from iniquity, as that name binds them to do, name it in vain; their worship is vain, their oblations are vain, their religion is vain.”

Secondly, taking God’s name in vain has to do with breaking vows and promises we have made to him.  Think about it.  If I tell you, “I promise,” to do thus and so without any intention to follow through or concern when I fail to deliver, it is not only personally injurious to you, but also careless and disrespectful.  This is an area where many fall into a works-based mentality and works religion.

Instead of keeping promises in obediences to God and obeying His Holy Word, instead of admitting and confessing their sin and trusting in Him to pardon, humans will try to “make up” for their failure and fault by doing something else.  Good works is how we term those things.  The problem is that good works are only truly “good” if they are done out of a right motive.  Making up for disobedience is not a right motive.  That is called manipulation and God will not be manipulated by men.  These works are vain and they take God’s name in vain.

This is what the term “penance” refers to.  Paying penance can be paying actual money in an effort to be absolved or forgiven for a sin or it can be a myriad of other good works down IN PLACE OF true repentance, asking forgiveness, and honest reconciliation after a fault.

Matthew Henry notes, “By covenant-breaking – if we make promises to God, binding our souls with those bonds to that which is good, and yet perform not to the Lord our vows, we take his name in vain, it is folly, and God has no pleasure in fools, nor will he be mocked.”

Thirdly, taking God’s name in vain is that which we all commonly know it to be.  Using God’s name as a cuss work, or swearing by it, or in any way that dishonors him.  This is something many who label themselves by His name consider acceptable.  Even a simple man can see that by doing so we not only dishonor Him, but also ourselves.  How foolish.

Lastly, we can take God’s name in vain by using it flippantly and without regard for His honor.  Terms like, “Oh my God,” “Sweet baby Jesus” “OMG” or any use of God’s name that lacks the authority and honor due Him is a sin as forbidden in this third commandment.

The second part of the verse is just as noteworthy as the first.  Not only are we forbidden to take God’s name in vain, we are warned of punishment if we disobey in this area.

While we are busy justifying and excusing this sin because it is so prevalent in our world today and we are so dull to the scripture’s command and warning, God is promising a severe penalty for it.  He says this, “…the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” 

God cannot lie.  He said he will not hold us guiltless for this act of disrespect.  God will avenge those who take his name in vain.  He is not a passive father who does not mean the things he says.  If a warning is present in the scripture and it is directed at His people and not the world – His people would do well to pay attention and reconsider what we accept and excuse on a daily basis.



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We had great fun acting out Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit as we began our journey through the book of Acts the day before.  Really, what kid doesn’t like making up a new language and pretending they’re on fire?  But today was different.  Today those unburned foreign language speakers had to defend themselves.  Today the disciples had been accused of drunkenness and were mocked as mentally disadvantaged.  

By the time I got through Peter’s defense and gospel presentation and on to David’s prophetic words, I was pretty sure I’d lost all three little minds to daydreams.  Nevertheless, the promise realized at Pentecost was doubtless repeating its performance – at least in me – despite my monotone.  Peter’s words were amplified without the need for a microphone the moment they left my mouth.  Finally, a not-fake smile appeared upon my rapidly line-filling face.  He said this:

“For David said this about him (Jesus): I keep the Lord before me always.  Because he is close by my side, I will not be hurt.  So I am glad, and I rejoice.  Even my body has hope.  This is because you will not leave me in the grave.  You will not let your Holy One rot.  You will teach me God’s way to live.  Being with you will fill me with joy.” (Acts 2:25-28)

Knowing I had about 4.2 seconds before sleep captured my subjects, I decided I’d better go with the flow.  Rather than going back through Pete’s entire sermon, I simply asked, “Do you girls remember who David was?”

My oldest comically “raised her hand” in our classroom of three and said, “I do!  Wasn’t he the one who got stones thrown at him?”

Now, if I hadn’t know my daughter’s level of Bible knowledge and I hadn’t always loved the story she was referring to, I may have corrected her.  But I did.  And I did.  So I replied with great enthusiasm, leaving my monotone behind, “Yes!  I love that story!  The one where he gets dirt kicked in his face and cussed out?!”


Most kids, (and adults!) when asked of David, would immediately envision his victory with Goliath.  They’d remember his dance, or, maybe even, his sin.  They’d remember that he was a king; a warrior; a winner.  They’d see him slinging a stone, not being stoned.  But not my Mia.  She is far too wise to forget the most important details of David’s life.  

David suffered greatly.  I wrote a four-hundred page book on the Psalms that assures me of it.  The king he shadowed, Jesus, suffered greatly, too.  

The story Mia was referring to is found in 2 Samuel 16.  It’s about a man, Shimei, who had the audacity to follow King David and his men, cursing him, throwing stones, and kicking dust in his face.

Most kings would never put up with that kind of disrespect and abuse. But this king did.  And my King Jesus did, too.  They really didn’ t have to because they had the power to stop it.   In fact, one of David’s men even offered to behead this fool for him.  David’s response?

“…If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” 11 And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. 12 It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.” ~2 Samuel 16:10b-12

What?!  Who says that when they are cursed?!  The Lord told him to?  The Lord may bless me because of it?  

David did – and he had more than enough reason and might to remove this miserable mocker.  But, no.  On they marched with the abuse marching right alongside.  Stones flying.  Dirt flying.  Choice words flying.  And the story ends with the king and his people arriving at their destination, weary.  

I’m so thankful for my eight-year-old’s intuitive, prophetic nature.  God uses small voices far more often than big ones – at least in monotone mommy’s lives.  

Thanks to Mia, I doubt I’ll ever think of David again without thinking of Shimei and his affliction, too.  I guess the lesson was for me yesterday.  Let me never remember David, the disciples, or my King, Jesus, apart from remembering the abuse, the mockery, the disrespect, the injury, and the suffering that goes along with the victory.  We cannot have one without the other.  We get to share in both.  

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. ~Romans 8:16-17


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