Monday, June 22, 2015

Breaking a Commandment: by Thanking God




“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 
When you think about taking God’s Name in vain, what do you think about? For me, a few examples immediately come to mind which I do not even want to put in print. I’ve also talked before about hearing or seeing many individuals, even Christians, use the acronym OMG. The use is equally insulting, even if the claim is that the letter G is not God but goodness. It doesn't change the implication that in our culture that acronym is more commonly known otherwise. I strongly feel we need to abstain from any use of such terminology.

Regardless, slipping up in this area is very rare for me; so while not perfect, I got this commandment pretty well under control right? Well, He has opened my eyes to things that I previously have not seen. Perhaps, some of these may surprise you, but here are some recent examples of my sinful use of taking His Name in vain.

  • Only by the Grace of Jesus Christ
  • Thank you Jesus
  • Help me Lord
               Confused? I’ll try to explain.

On our way to my father’s house for a small gathering for Father’s Day, we needed to stop by Kroger to pick something up. I dropped my wife off at the door and proceeded to park the vehicle while she ran in the store. (This particular Kroger needs a serious logistics expert to come in as their parking system is, well … anyway, I digress.) I wasn’t frustrated at all, in fact it was a beautiful day and I was quite relaxed, even with the parking lot chaos. I did end up finding a parking spot after a while, but it was only shortly before my wife was done and already walking to the car. She gets in the vehicle, we smile at each other, and she makes a comment that she was surprised I actually found a parking spot. I smile back and reply: “It was only by the Grace of Jesus Christ I found one, this lot is crazy.”

Ouch. Really Matt? The Grace of Jesus Christ is reduced to a parking spot privilege?

While we can have a separate conversation on the little blessings of life, and God’s involvement, this had nothing to do with that; the issue here is about sincerity.  I was not meditating on the immeasurable gift of Grace through Christ … I really wasn't even thanking God, I was making joke; a joke of Grace. Unintentionally, sure, but no longer as it has now been brought into the Light.

     ... but let us take a brief step back.

If we go to the passage from Exodus above, the word shav’ (transliterated) is used for the word vain. When the definition is examined, one word keeps coming up to describe this word; emptiness. If there is one thing that the Lord’s Name is not, It is empty.

This can at times even be seen in the seemingly innocent phrase: Thank You Jesus.

Are my thanks to Jesus like someone passing me salt at the dinner table, where I may not even make eye contact while I quietly utter the words thanks? Worse, is it like my example above, almost made in jest? Or is it similar to when I receive a gift from my wife, look at her in the eyes, smile, and thank her from my heart?

Thanking God doesn’t always require deep meditative thought. In fact, like any relationship, I think as we draw closer to Him, the more we will react in thanks; even for the very small things ... so long as it holds meaning. Many times I quickly thank Him for something and it is honest, true, and sincere. However there are other times ...

Simply put, are our words empty, or full of meaning? What about these phrases:

  • We’ll have to get together soon.
  • I’ll be praying for you.
  • If you need anything, let me know.
They sound wonderful, but do they have a fullness behind them when they leave our lips? I'm sure we all have lifted individuals up in heartfelt prayer, but I'm willing to guess we have also failed to do so, or do so with an attentive heart as we approach the King of Kings at His Throne in prayer.

May our words build ...
"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." (Ephesians 4:29 ESV)
May our words bring Him glory ...
"Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11 ESV)
... and may they never be shav' ... empty.

His,
~Matthew

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