16th February 2017

Actions Speak as Loud as Words

“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 (ESV)

It’s a sad fact that many people frequently use the name of God or Jesus Christ as an expletive. And this lack of respect has filtered down the generation line so that even young children can be heard to use those names as expressions of surprise or exclamation. And because the practice has become so commonplace, there is probably little or no recognition that it is the name of the Creator and Saviour that is being brought into play in a vain way.

Of course, the Ten Commandments instructed the Israelites that the name of God should not be taken in vain, as in the scripture above. And to play it safe, centuries later the religious leaders decided never to say the Name Yahweh—just in case they ran afoul of the third command.

We are not under the Old Covenant today, of course, but that doesn’t stop us respecting the name of God and Jesus Christ. And that reverence should go beyond simply mouthing the names without consideration of the positions of the Godhead.

In Hebrew thinking, a name conveys the very nature and reputation of the person or object being named. We are called Christian, so we have the very name of Christ in our ‘job description’. Interestingly, the word for name in Exodus 20:7, Shem, can mean character. So, by extension, we can see that all of our actions should reflect the very character of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, actions that do not mirror the ways of Jesus Christ could be construed as taking His name in vain.

Surely, one of the greatest condemnations by someone viewing the actions (or hearing the words) of a believer is, “Well, if that is what it means to be a Christian, I don’t want any of it.”

The scriptures tell us that we will be judged by our words (Matthew 12:37), and the Greek word for ‘words’ can also imply the thoughts behind the spoken utterance. Similarly, thoughts precede actions. And that means we must ensure that, through the continual guidance of God’s Spirit, we do not use God’s name in vain by thoughtless deeds that fail to reflect the love, concern and self-sacrifice of our Saviour.

Great Father, we who are called by your Son’s name must reflect his character and concern for all humanity. Through the power of your Spirit, please enable us by our words and actions to bring only honour and glory to the Divine name. It is in that name, we ask this.

Study by Philip Stevens


About the Author:
Philip Stevens attends the Great Baddow Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK (near Chelmsford).

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Great Baddow
United Reformed Church
High Street
Great Baddow

Meeting Time:
Saturday 1pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 01508-498165
Email: tony_goudie@wcg.org.uk

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