A Holy God
Bible Reading: Exodus 20:7
Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God (Exodus 20:7).
Basketball legend Charles Barkley, after signing a new million-dollar contract, once responded to reporters’ questions by saying, “I’m so tired of talking about money, money, money. I just want to play basketball, drink Pepsi, and wear Reeboks!”
Barkley was joking, of course. Not only does his basketball playing earn him millions of dollars, but he is also paid a lot of money for his endorsement of products like Pepsi-Cola and Reebok. These companies pay Barkley, and other celebrities and athletes like him, to endorse their products because they want that star’s name to be associated with their drink, shoe, car, or long-distance phone company.
Of course, celebrities want their name to be linked with good products, too. Charles Barkley probably wouldn't have endorsed Dirty Joe’s Puke Juice, even if they’d offered him more money than PepsiCo. He probably would have turned down an offer from Ugly-Shoes-That-Don’t-Fit ‘R’ Us, even if they could have paid him more than Reebok, Inc. Why? Because who wants his or her name to be associated with something crummy, shoddy, or “uncool”?
You can understand that, can’t you?
If you can, then maybe you can see why God is so concerned about how his name is used. You can see why, in the Ten Commandments, God told his people not to misuse his name. And you can see why, in Leviticus 19:12, God said, “Do not use my name to swear a falsehood and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.”
See, God is a holy God. He is perfectly pure, good, and righteous. And because he’s holy, he doesn’t want his name to be associated with anything evil or false or frivolous (anything unimportant, silly, or careless). That’s why it’s wrong to use God’s name in a profane expression. That’s why it’s wrong to use God’s name thoughtlessly, even in popular expressions such as “omigod.” That’s why it’s wrong to use God’s name to cover up a lie or swear to something that’s false. Because doing those kinds of things offends God’s holiness.
If Charles Barkley and other famous people like him have good reasons to protect their names, God has infinitely better reasons.
REFLECT: When God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites, the common practice was to swear an oath with the name of a god in an effort to make the oath more believable. Some people follow similar practices even today. Think of an example.
Do you ever tie God’s name to anything evil or false or frivolous? Think about the commandment in Exodus 20:7. How can you change this behavior?
ACT: Place a soft-drink bottle (or your name-brand tennis shoes) in a prominent place in your room or school locker to remind you to honor God’s name today.
PRAY: “God, I know that your name is misused a lot. The next time I hear that happen, whether it’s a friend or me doing it, help me remember to________________.”