the commandments. today.
Welcome back to our 10 Commandment series from Deuteronomy. The third commandment reminds us of the power that lies behind God’s name, and is a warning that we should not use this flippantly.
‘You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.’ (Deuteronomy 5:11)
The Big Idea
For the Israelites, this commandment would probably have evoked memories of Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush. Here (the story is told in Exodus 3), God revealed himself as Yahweh, I am who I am. This name became incredibly precious to the Israelites, and there was a profound understanding that they were not to use this name lightly, for it contained an understanding of God’s character.
In today’s culture, this appreciation of God’s name, and the weight behind it, is not as readily understood. For us as Christians, it is important and essential to remember that we represent God, his name and, therefore, his character, to a watching world. Misusing his name could mean representing God to those around us. There is a warning to all of us about carelessly using phrases such as “God told me to…” without considering their implication; we attribute God’s name to our own thoughts and feelings. We must be careful to ensure that our lives are in accordance with who God is, so that we do not bear false witness to who he is.
Obeying it Today
How then do we put this commandment into practice?
Don’t forgot who we represent
The name ‘Christian’ originated from the early disciples being called ‘little Christs’, linking them undeniably to Jesus. We must remember that if we call ourselves Christians, we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). Therefore, we cannot forget who we are representing to a world that is so in need of Jesus, his love and acceptance in particular. It is Jesus who enables us to be people full of joy, grace, kindness, patience and goodness, let us to continue to look to him for help and guidance, remembering that we are his body (1 Corinthians 12:27).
Don’t forget the power of God’s name
Our God is incredibly powerful, he is majestic and is he is Lord over all the earth. How often do we forget these attributes in our choices, conversations, and even prayer lives? It is easy to fall into the trap of only relating to God as a best mate, forgetting that he is the Lord and King of the Universe. When we use language of God telling us to do things flippantly, these words can be questioned by people in our lives; has God really said that? Is it in line with Scripture? God does speak today, but we must be careful to ensure we are listening for his voice, and not ours.
Some things we can do…
- Speak cautiously, and humbly, allowing our language to reflect that we are under God’s authority, rather than implying that we are.
- Live lives of integrity, which reflect the character and name of God, in which we are who we say we are, and we live accordingly.
- Ensure that our speech is wholesome, kind and loving, for our conversation can communicate our character.