“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.” Exodus 20:7

Despite this harsh warning, in today’s culture we are tempted to misuse God’s name in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Pastor Colin Smith points to an example from the Oxford English Dictionary, which defines Jesus as a vulgarity, before crediting Him as the founder of Christianity.

“I was staggered actually that the Oxford English Dictionary gave the definitions in that order, first of vulgarity, among those who do not believe that is the common use of the name of our Lord and our Savior.”

Rather than going along with cultural trends, such as the term ‘OMG,’ we are encouraged to use vocabulary that is honoring to God’s name and the Third Commandment.

“I want to take every opportunity that I can get to say to brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s be sure, as those who love the Lord, that anytime we use the name of God; anytime that we speak of Him, that it’s clear to anybody who hears us announce His name that we love Him, that we worship Him, that we adore Him and that we would never speak about Him in a way that was light, trivial or dismissive.”

Pastor Colin reminds us that we may not even be aware that we are misusing God’s name, so it’s important to pay attention to our words and actions.

“I think it’s very easy for us to take the name of God and append His name, as it were, to what may turn out to be our own ideas. For example, I have this project that I want to do and then to start presenting it as if it had been received on a hotline from Heaven and was endorsed by the Lord Himself – that’s a misuse of the name of the Lord.”

As followers of Christ, we need to be careful how we represent the Lord and, above all else, honor God when we speak about His Holy name. Pastor Colin speaks to anyone who struggles to set themselves apart from the culture we live in today,

“We need to be tentative when we’re speaking about things that we think, feel, hope, perceive, etc. We need to be careful that we don’t use the name of the Lord inappropriately for something that may turn out in the end to be a short-lived, harebrained idea that came purely from my own imagination.”

Colin Smith is Senior Pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church and teacher of the daily radio program, Unlocking the Bible. With an audience of nearly 100,000, the program is now heard on more than 100 radio stations, including Faith Radio, via podcast and smartphone apps, and on the internet.

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