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Vain Words Hurt

A son honors his father and a servant his master.

Then, if I am a father, where is My honor?

And if I am a master, where is my respect?

Malachi 1:6

I know your “upbringing” plays a huge role in your standards so maybe I’m just super sensitive to “off-color” language. Cursing was never heard in my home or among our friends. I remember this incident well–I was scared, but oh, so proud of Daddy! I was probably eleven or twelve and had gone to a football game with my Dad–just the two of us. There were two men (I won’t call them ‘gentlemen’) sitting behind us and the longer the game went on and the more beer they drank, the more cursing came from that direction.. Finally my Dad stood up, glared at the men and said forcefully, “Don’t use language like that in front of my daughter!” The men were shocked! Dad was small of stature but his muscles were like iron and he was ready to fight those two drunken football fans for cursing in my presence! Let’s hear it for Dad! Hooray! Way to go!

Commandment #3 (Exodus 20:7) is one of the most maligned of the ten, not that any of them are observed too rigidly, but “taking the name of the Lord in vain” is used as frequently as the name McDonald’s! How often do you hear, “Oh, my God!” in surprise or frustration, or anger or whenever? When a contestant wins the prize out comes that expletive! When a scene of violence appears there it is! It is casually thrown into almost every TV or movie script. Men used to be the ones most likely to have such words on the tip of their tongues but not anymore. Women are just as guilty as men and kids are in the running, too.

God has commanded us to use His Name as befits our awesome holy God. I love the story of the Rechabites told in Jeremiah chapter thirty five. You might think that it is teaching about abstinence. Not so! God had carefully drawn up a “show and tell” teaching session. He was going to teach His children something much more important than abstinence!

Jeremiah was following the instructions given to him by the Lord when he brought the Rechabites into the house of the Lord, set pitchers of wine before them and told them, “Drink wine” (Jeremiah 35:2-5)! They refused! “We will not drink wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall not drink wine, you or your sons, forever” (Jeremiah 35:6). “This is what dad told us to do and we are going to do as he asks.”

The prophet continues speaking, “Thus says the Lord. I have spoken to you again and again; yet you have not listened to Me. I spoke to the inhabitants of Jerusalem but they did not listen, and I have called them but they did not answer” (Jeremiah 35:17) God praises the obedience of the Rechabites: Because you have obeyed the command of Jonadab your father . . . therefore, Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me always. He will always have descendants who will worship Me (Jeremiah 35:19 TLB).

“I don’t curse so this doesn’t apply to me.” Think! What does ‘vain’ mean? Definition: having no real value; worthless; without effect; futile; profanely. How do we use His name in vain? We promise Him that we will do something or quit doing something and we don’t following through. That’s using His name in vain–that’s a ‘vain’ promise. By attributing to Him false promises and mild rebukes. By presenting a warped picture of God to others around us. By refusing to honor Him as God or to respect Him as our Father. Yes. Using God’s name in vain is a serious offense to Him, after all it IS one of the Big Ten! Are we as careless with the other nine?

I am sorry that I offend You, Lord, and I am confident that I do in many ways. I say to You: You are my God! Teach me to honor and respect You as Your majesty and magnificence demands.

For from the rising of the sun even to its setting,

My name will be great among the nations.

Malachi 1:11

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.