“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.” (Exodus 20:7)
Growing up, I was always told that to take the name of the LORD in vain was to curse while invoking the word, “God.” While we, as God’s people, should not do such and will in all probability feel vexed when exposed to such language, the reality is that is not what is meant by this command, at least not exclusively. The word translated “in vain” means “lacking value or content” – in other words to use something considered sacred in a flippant way.
The Hebrew word used here would also include the idea of using the Name of God for vain purposes. An example would be to invoke God’s name in order to disseminate a falsehood; to use His name in an effort to convince someone of something that isn’t true. To use it in this manner lacks consideration of its sanctity; in other words, to make it commonplace. Frankly, it is very common for us to hear someone say, “I swear to God” in an effort to convince us that something they are presenting to us is the truth. To this kind of situation, Messiah had this to say:
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:33-37)
There is an old adage that says, “Familiarity breeds contempt” meaning that the more commonplace something is, the less likely we are to respect and appreciate it. So the point I wish to make is that believers should never feel compelled to invoke the Name of God in an effort to lend credence to a statement. When we speak, what we say should stand solely on the merit of being the truth. If we feel we must bring the name of God into a conversation in order to convince someone of something, we lend to making His sacred Name commonplace. This practice is something we must abandon and avoid.
Never should we use His name to convince others of our devotion and righteousness but we should always regard it as sacred. His Name is synonymous with His reputation and so it becomes our duty to uphold the unique and holy nature of our God and His name in the earth. We are His representatives and are, therefore, charged with sanctifying His Name in the earth. So every day let us resolve to let our Yes be Yes and let us elevate the Name of our God above all that others may see His holiness.
Blessings and Shalom,