Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Importance of God's Name

One thing that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck is how often Christians will say "Oh, my God." And they aren't praying or talking to Him either. It is so common today for God's name to be used flippantly and in casual conversations. I hear callers on Christian radio who learn they have won a prize just scream these words. I hear the mis-use of God's name in this way from so many Christians and I have to wonder if we realize what we are saying. The last straw for me was seeing a necklace in a local department store with a charm that reads "OMG." Are you kidding me? I know that if I were to use the name of some other religious gods or leaders like this I would offend others and certainly would hear about it. Christians and non-Christians are getting into this habit of misusing God's name and few seem offended. Why is it OK to misuse the name of God?

Malachi 1:6 says the priests of Israel treated God's name with no honor or reverence and they even went so far as to despise the name of God. The third commandment reads: "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 (KJV). Our English word for "vain" is the Hebrew word "shaw." It means "emptiness, nothingness, or vanity, in the sense of being ineffective or lacking in purpose." The English word "take" is the Hebrew word "nasa." This means "lift, lift up, to bear, carry support, sustain (can be literal or figurative)." To lift up the name of God in an empty manner or without purpose is taking God's name in vain.

If we want to develop a healthy fear of God we need to understand that God's name is not to be used as empty slang. He will hold us accountable. Malachi 1:14 ends on how God's name is to be treated - "For I am a great King" says the Lord of hosts, "And my name is to be feared among the nations."

Taking God's name in vain can be even broader then just our speech. As servants and representatives of Jesus Christ everything we do is a reflection of God's name. Every action and attitude represents the name of God. "Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed" 1 Timothy 6:1 (NKJV).

Is God worthy of your honor? Today will you and I work on honoring His name in speech, thought and action?

Kathy Withers

Kathy serves in Guest Services. She is married to Dave and mom to Michael and Kerri.

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