What's In A Name?
[From Luther’s Small Catechism]:
“We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.”
Try turning on the TV and see if you can make it more than 2 minutes without someone saying, “Oh my God!” or “Jesus Christ!” or some other form of using God’s name as an exclamation. We’ve gotten so used to it that it’s easy to not even realize what you’ve said or heard. We’ve even created a text shortened version, OMG!
As bad as this casual and irreverent use of God’s name may be, this command goes much deeper. Swearing when we don’t mean it (I swear to God!) as well as lying or deceiving by His name are using His name in vain. And do we not even call ourselves “Christian”? We claim His name as our identity, and rightly so if we have faith. However, that also means that we associate His name with our every action, be it a blessing or a cruel comment, a hug or a rude gesture in the car, etc.
This commandment, however, while stated in the negative (you shall not…) also implies the positive (You shall…). God wants us to use His name rightly. He wants us to call upon Him when we are in trouble. He wants us to look to Him for our every need. He wants us to glorify His name before others and give Him thanks for His many blessings. And He, Himself, puts His name on us in our baptism. He claims us, despite the many times we take that name in vain. By putting His name on us, He forgives us and purifies us of every time we’ve taken His name in vain as well as every other sin.
So, let’s finish by using His name rightly…
You are an amazing God, deserving of all praise and honor and glory. I thank You for the many ways You have blessed me, especially for forgiving me of my sin and writing Your name on my heart. May You work in and through me that my life may cause others to glorify Your name.
In Christ’s Service,