Ten Commandments | Devotion 2: Frivolous?
Pastor Gareth Volz

Exodus 20:7 says, “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.” This is a familiar verse to most Christians, especially those who have been raised in a Christian family and attended church most of their lives.

When I first thought about writing a devotion on this commandment, I felt, “What an easy assignment – the Lord said do not take My name in vain, and if you do, I will hold you guilty for doing so. Swearing is wrong, so do not do it! Assignment completed.” At least that was my initial thought.

The Holy Spirit whispered that I needed to dig deeper into what God was saying in this verse. What does it mean to take the name of the Lord my God in vain? “Vain” in Hebrew means “empty or worthless of value.” It is used in Psalm 127:2 to describe worthless works, in Jonah 2:8 to describe worthless idols, and in Ezekiel 12:24 to describe false prophecy. So, in addition to being a warning not to curse or swear, it also means not to use the Lord’s name in an empty or worthless manner.

I began to think, have I ever used the Lord’s name in a worthless manner? What would that look like? Then it hit me! When I pray to the Lord, do I realize that I am talking to Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of everything? Is the focus of my conversation on the fact that He is omnipotent [all powerful] and omniscient [knows everything]? Do I really believe that He hears my prayers and will answer them in His perfect time and way? If not, then I am using His name in an empty, worthless manner.

When a family member or friend has a health issue or is going through a tough time, and I say I will pray for them, do I really pray for them? Is my prayer for them one that comes from a heart that yearns for God’s best for them, or do I just rattle off some phrase because I said I would? If that is the case, then I used His name in an empty and worthless manner.

When I am startled by something, do I ever utter the phrase, “Oh my God” or some similar phrase when I am not thinking of God at all? If so, I am using His name in a frivolous manner – an empty and worthless manner.

It is easy to sometimes be like the Pharisee’s prayer comparing himself to the tax collector in Luke 18:10, and say, “Lord I thank you that I am not like those other people that swear and take Your name in vain.” Any time I use the Lord’s name in a casual or trivial manner violates His command in Exodus 20:7. The Lord’s name is holy and powerful, and I need to hold it in reverence at all times.

As the Lord’s child, I never want to use His name in a disrespectful manner. He deserves always to be exalted by our use of His name.

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