Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Don't Misuse my Name

What comes to mind when you read this Commandment -- the third of ten:

You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. Exodus 20:7
I listened to Sermon #3 in Andy Stanley's Sinai series today. In it, he talks about this particular commandment, and he makes a point that I have never considered. I like his view on this scripture.

If someone had asked me, I would have said that this scripture is about cursing -- using the name of God an in inappropriate manner -- hit your thumb with a hammer, and cry out a gosh-durnit, but more colorfully. I did wonder why God would make that prohibition a commandment, because it certainly didn't seem to rank as high as murder on the "sin-0-meter."

Stanley has a whole other take on this commandment. Read the NIV translation above again. It tells us not to misuse the name of the Lord. How would we misuse God's name?

I was on the phone one day, talking to a salesman (against my will -- I used to be much more reluctant to hang up on them). The man was trying to sell me a membership in some kind of club. He said, "I talked to your husband the last time I called, and he said he wanted to do this." Of course, I know my husband way better than he does, and I knew that he was wrong. I said, "Doesn't matter. We're not doing it." The salesman tried to misuse Steve's name to get me to do something that he wanted done.

We do that with God's name. We misuse it.

  • "You have to wear nice clothes to church in order to show respect to God." We make people think that, so that they are uncomfortable in church, and we make them think that it is the will of God, when really, the will of God is for people to feel welcome in his church.
  • "In order to be a part of this church, you must give a certain amount of money." We tell people that, making them feel bad if they cannot donate a large amount of money. That's not God's will.
  • "God hasn't equipped me to do that ministry" when really, God may have equipped us, but we just don't want to do it.

Stanley goes on to say that this commandment is to prevent us from creating our own religion. When we try to do that, we miss God. We miss a relationship with God.

That makes much more sense to me than a simple, "Don't take my name so lightly that you scream it out when you bump your head."



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