Sometimes I hear people quote me, but the words they say don’t match what I said. Due to misunderstanding or to foster false impressions, words are taken out of context and incorrect directives are repeated. When this happens, I jokingly say that my name has been taken in vain.
Names are important. They represent who we are, our character, and certain expectations are associated with the name. Using a person’s name is not to be taken lightly.
Using God’s name must not be taken lightly either.
The third commandment in Exodus 20:7 gives us God’s expectation that His name not be taken in vain. We often connect this to using God’s name in cursing, and cursing is certainly not the best use of our words (Ephesians 4:29), but the command reaches much further than this. The word vain carries the meaning of empty or useless, without power. When we use the name of God in vain, we are denying the omnipotence of His being. We also use God’s name in vain when we misrepresent Who He is and what He has said.
We see an example of this in Isaiah 48:1. “Hear this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness.” Israel was using God’s name, but they were using it in vain. Their walk did not match their talk.
God calls His children to walk (live) in a way that aligns with Who He is. Just a quick search of the word “walk” in the New Testament reveals several characteristics of our walk.
- Romans 6:4 – walk in newness of life (I am a daughter of the King.)
- Romans 8:1, 4 – walk in the Spirit (pay attention to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your life; obey Him)
- Romans 13:13 – walk honestly
- I Corinthians 7:17 – walk according to God’s call on your life (be who He has called you to be)
- II Corinthians 5:7 – walk by faith (trusting, not fretting)
- Ephesians 2:10 – walk in good works
- Ephesians 4:1 – walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called (we are called to be servants of the most high God)
- Ephesians 5:2 – walk in love (this is a lifetime goal within itself)
- Ephesians 5:8 – walk as children of the light
- Ephesians 5:15 – walk circumspectly (watchfully, cautiously)
- Colossians 1:10 – walk worthy of the Lord
- Colossians 2:6 – walk in Christ (honoring Who He is and what He has done)
While there are many other references, I will stop there. That is already enough to keep me busy walking for a long time.
When we walk as God has called us, we bring honor to His name. When we fail to walk in His way, we are using or claiming His name in vain.
We often focus on all the things that the Bible tells us not to do, ways that we should not walk, but when we attend to walking God’s way those things will take care of themselves.
Today I want to bring honor to God’s name, not take it in vain, so let me get busy walking His way.
I John 2:5 But whoso keeps His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. 6 He that says he abides in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He (Jesus) walked.
Photo – Happened Upon a Flower, Beth Mims