“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
What’s in a name? It depends, some names are widely know and greatly respected, others are widely known and despised, and still others are not very well known at all.
Solomon wrote, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)
I don’t believe that having your name on everyone’s lips was the important thing to Solomon. It was far more important that the people who knew you respected you.
What people think of God is very important to him. The third commandment says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…”
The word translated, “vain”, literally means, “to make worthless or inconsequential.”
Many times we limit the misuse of God’s name to the way we use it when we talk. When I was in college I had a friend whose language was tremendously vulgar, nearly every sentence had some sort of filthy reference, but he was very careful to not misuse God’s name. In his mind keeping the third commandment was limited to how he used it when he talked.
Friends, there are many ways that we can make the name of God worthless. The worst way is for those of us who call ourselves Christians and claim to follow him to be bad witnesses or ambassadors for him.
For many people, we are the first idea of Jesus they will ever have. What idea of Jesus will they get from us? Will he be accepting, loving, kind, respectful and helpful? Or will he be demanding, exclusive, out-of-touch, frivolous, and selfish.
Nothing prevents us from being good witnesses for Jesus except us. If we’re bad witnesses I believe that root of the problem is that we don’t really know him. We’ve taken his name because of family expectations or tradition and not because we’ve fallen in love with him for ourselves.
If Jesus is your hero, your role model, your ideal you won’t have a problem being a positive ambassador for him. We tend to emulate our hero’s and role models and there’s no better way to add to the fame of Jesus than for us to live our lives like he lived his.