Summary: An application of the third commandment not to take up God’s Name in a worthless or false way, but rather to honor God’s name by what we say and do.
God’s Name (Exodus 20:7)
Just a little over 10 years ago (1997), a 14-year-old student, Nathan Zohner, circulated a petition to ban the use of dihydrogen monoxide. According to Zohner, dihydrogen monoxide “may cause severe burns, accelerates the corrosion and rusting of many metals, and has been found in the excised tumors of terminal cancer patients.” In addition to these risks, Zohner noted that this nefarious chemical is often used “as an industrial solvent and coolant, in the production of Styrofoam, and as a fire retardant.”
As it turned out, the petition was a hoax perpetrated as part of a high school science fair. You see, dihydrogen monoxide is the technical name for H2O, also known as water. (Sam O’Neal, “What the Bible Says About God,” Building Small Groups newsletter)
It’s amazing how someone can take a perfectly good name and make it sound so bad. & If we’re not careful, we can do the same thing with God’s name. By the things we say or do, as God’s people, we can…
give God a “bad” name, or give people the wrong idea about God. & That would be very tragic, especially if some of them reject our Lord, simply because we misrepresented Him.
Instead, as people who love the Lord, we want others to think about how wonderful He is when they hear His name. We want people to think of His loving nature, His power, His holiness, His righteousness, and His willingness to forgive. We want people to be drawn to our Lord when they hear His name.
The question is: How? How can we bring honor to God’s name? How can we cause people to think good things about God when they hear His name?
Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to
Literally, you shall not take up the name of the Lord Your God in a worthless (or false) way, for God will not leave unpunished anyone who takes up his name in a worthless (or false) way.
This is serious stuff with the LORD. He does not want any one of us misrepresenting His good name. No! If we’re going to take up His Name, we better represent it well.
Several years ago, the Holiday Inn hotel chain threatened our local Holiday Inn with a lawsuit. They thought that our local Holiday Inn had stolen the name from them, and they didn’t want any local establishment misrepresenting their good name.
You see, the name, Holiday Inn, represents a certain level of quality, and if another hotel uses that name without maintaining their standards, it could make people think all Holiday Inn’s are substandard.
What the Holiday Inn people didn’t know was that our local Holiday Inn had the name first, and its standards are superior to many of the Holiday Inns across the country. Needless to say, the lawsuit didn’t go anywhere.
But it does illustrate the point about how serious it is for a company or an individual to maintain a good name.
God takes His name seriously, and if we’re going to take up His name,
we better take it seriously, as well.
How? Well, first of all, we HONOR GOD’S NAME BY WHAT WE SAY. WE HONOR (or dishonor) GOD’S NAME BY OUR WORDS. We certainly don’t want to say anything that disparages God’s Name.
Two men get into a fight, and one of them blasphemes the Name of God. That means he slanders God’s name. He cursed and swore, using God’s name in the process, and God said, “Stone him.”
Now, aren’t you glad we live in a different day and age – an age of grace? Otherwise, we’d have stonings on this island every day. Even so, this story shows us how seriously God takes His own name. Profanity has no place in the speech of those who have taken up God’s name. My friends, if you take up God’s name in your speech, then make sure you use it appropriately and reverently.
A little boy was sitting sadly on the curb beside his lawn mower, when a preacher came along riding a bicycle. The preacher noticed that the boy appeared discouraged, so he thought he would try to help.
“Hello there!” said the preacher. “How would you like to trade your lawn mower for this bicycle?”
“Sure, mister,” the boy responded, and went on his merry way.
A few days later, the boy and the preacher crossed paths again. The preacher said, “I think you cheated me on our trade. I keep crankin’ that old lawn mower, but it won’t start.”