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Summary: A sermon on the third commandment

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When the 1960s ended, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district reverted to high rent, and many hippies moved down the coast to Santa Cruz. They had children and got married, too, though in no particular sequence. But they didn’t name their children Melissa or Brett. People in the mountains around Santa Cruz grew accustomed to their children playing Frisbee with little Time Warp or Spring Fever. And eventually Moonbeam, Earth, Love and Precious Promise all ended up in public school. That’s when the kindergarten teachers first met Fruit Stand. Every fall, according to tradition, parents bravely apply name tags to their children, kiss them good-bye and send them off to school on the bus. So it was for Fruit Stand. The teachers thought the boy’s name was odd, but they tried to make the best of it. “Would you like to play with the blocks, Fruit Stand?” they offered. And later, “Fruit Stand, how about a snack?” He accepted hesitantly. By the end of the day, his name didn’t seem much odder than Heather’s or Sun Ray’s. At dismissal time, the teachers led the children out to the buses. “Fruit Stand, do you know which one is your bus?” He didn’t answer. That wasn’t strange. He hadn’t answered them all day. Lots of children are shy on the first day of school. It didn’t matter. The teachers had instructed the parents to write the names of their children’s bus stops on the reverse side of their name tags. The teacher simply turned over the tag. There, neatly printed was the word, “Anthony.” Luanne Oleas in Salinas, California, Reader’s Digest

Names are important to us, especially our own. A name is more than a means of identifying someone. It conveys information about our family, social and economic status, race and sometimes religion too. The mere mention of some names would elicit an immediate emotional response from you. What images come to mind when I say Sadam Hussein or David Letterman? How about Graham or Gotti? Have you ever known anyone who named their baby boy, Judas, or their baby girl, Jezebel?

Those names conjure up images that even nonreligious people resist. If you’ve had children there were certain names you would not consider because they reminded you of someone you did not like in school. On the flip side, we tend to name our kids after people who we feel good about. Names are important.

In the third of the Ten Commandments we find that God is protective of his name. We are commanded to proceed with extreme caution in handling the name of the Almighty.

"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. NKJV

"You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. NIV

God is so concerned about the proper use of his name that there’s a promise of punitive action if it’s misused. Literally, God told his people not to lift up or take up his name with emptiness. Those of you who grew up reading an older translation of the Bible may remember this commandment as saying, “Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” Vanity means “nothingness” or “trivial.” To take God’s name in vain means that it has been treated lightly, not taken seriously.


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Talk about it...

Eric Smith

commented on Nov 11, 2006

Awesome message. In a nut shell, it is not what your lips are saying, it is what your life is saying. When we call ourselves a Christian, others judge Christ by us. Keep up the great writing.

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