Commandment #3   Leave a comment

Exodus 20:7 in the New International Version says, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

Need I say more?  Probably not, but years in ministry beg me to elaborate anyway.

All of the references I could make to using God’s name as a swear word are pretty obvious.  We’ve all seen the bumper stickers that elude to what God’s last name is not.    

One of the things that has been taught to Christians over the years is the art of substitution.  I learned this as a child and I have taught this to my own children, but as I write this I wonder if substitution is really the proper practice or not.  To keep children out of trouble, we teach them to substitute the misusage of God’s name by teaching them to say things like “Gosh Darn it” or “Jeesh”.  I even heard one teach their child to say “Jiminy Cricket” as a substitute for our Savior’s name.  “That way you won’t say the wrong thing.”

Are we teaching our children the importance of how to properly address and refer to our Lord, or are we teaching them loopholes that will keep them out of trouble?  Again, this is what I have taught my children also, so please understand that this is a reflection for me as well.

I think that there is a better way.  I was just reviewing my Experiencing God workbook in which Henry Blackaby devotes two entire pages (small print) to names, titles and descriptions of God from the NIV.  Believe me, just printing this list will fill your email capacity.  He has segmented this list into three parts; one each for Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit.  Each is extensive.

Wouldn’t it be great to study of a list like this – and teach THAT to our children instead of “How to Avoid Proper Swearing 101”?  It’s kind of like the difference in the perspective of salvation as either fire insurance or a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Let’s focus on the proper usage of the Lord’s name, and include learning the meanings and relevance of these descriptions.  I believe that we will discover such great joy in using His name in ways that please Him, that we’ll not even think about misusing it ever again.

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