Our confirmation students had a written test in which they wrote about the commandment that was most challenging to them. Two commandments were frequently cited: the second and tenth commandments. Both are worthy of further reflection. I will start with the second commandment and post on the tenth tomorrow.
The second commandment, “you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” reflects the power of words. What we say matters. God has given us a tremendous gift in being able to call out to him in prayer, praise and thanksgiving at anytime and in any situation. God is like a mother who walks through a crowded noisy mall, hears a child’s cry and knows the child is her daughter or son. God knows and responds to the cry of our hearts when we sing with joy or shout in terror. What a privilege to be able to call upon the creator of the universe!
With this privilege in mind, we see how disrespectful it is to use God’s name to curse others, to inflict harm upon others. Yes, we are creatures with powerful emotions like anger and rage. Yes, we can be provoked by the actions of others to say things we wish we hadn’t. Yes, cursing has become more pervasive, even acceptable in our culture. Still we are not ruled by our emotions nor by cultural norms, but have the capacity to choose how to respond to our emotional stirrings. Jesus calls us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). We need to pray for God’s help to keep his name holy.
One confirmation student did have a valid observation. He observed people being very cavalier, or bored, in worship as they mumbled God’s praise. Can our worship become so casual that we begin to take God’s name in vain? Can we be disrespecting God because we are daydreaming instead of truly praising his Holy name? I appreciate how confirmation student can sometimes help me see the God’s truth in a new light.
Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of your name. Help me to cherish it always.