Time for another lesson in Jewish culture. One of the Ten Commandments (as we call them) states “do not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain.” Now, all my life I have heard that this refers to swearing. We are suppose to say the name of God with reverence and respect, never lightly or flippantly.
And yes I still 100% agree with that – just so you all know 🙂
However, I think there’s a deeper meaning that has been missed.
In the Middle east your name was not just something you were given bc your parents liked the sound, but it was suppose to represent who and what you would be. Your character would be represented in your name.
It is the same with God. His character, His reputation is represented in His Name. Remember, while on earth Jesus taught His disciples to pray “hallowed be Your Name…” In other words, may Your reputation be glorified! So, what does it mean to take God’s Name, or God’s reputation in vain? I’ll give you a hint – some prefer the translate the command this way “do not CARRY the Name of the Lord your God in vain.”
To the Rabbis taking God’s Name in vain was done not only with your mouth but also by your deeds. For example, you are profaning God’s Name/reputation when you gossip with your neighbor and then the next moment invite her to church with you. You take (or carry) God’s Name in vain when a coworker catches you one moment lying on your time card and the next hears you say you’ll be praying for another person who’s struggling.
When your actions are dishonoring to God and His reputation you are in essence taking His Name in vain.
But the reverse is also true. You are hallowing the Name when you tell the truth in a difficult situation and when someone asks why – bc God is truth and therefore, I must tell the truth. You bring glory to God and His reputation when you at selflessly and put yourself last and when someone asks you why – bc Jesus said whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.
When you live your life in such a way that God is praised among the pagans – you are hallowing the Name.
May we learn this simple yet profound truth. Taking God’s Name in vain involves both our words and our deeds. And one day when we stand before the Lord may we be found as those who hallowed the Name and brought His kingdom to earth as it is in heaven.