The Second Commandment

God asks us to respect His Holy name and not to use it in vain. The Second Commandment focuses on showing respect. It addresses the way we communicate our feelings about God to others and to Him. It encompasses our attitudes, speech and behavior. Respect is the cornerstone of good relationships. The quality of our relationship with God depends on the love and regard we have for Him. It also depends on the way we express respect for Him in the presence of others. The use of God's name in a flippant, degrading or in any way disrespectful manner, dishonors the relationship we are supposed to have with Him. This can vary from careless disregard to hostility and antagonism. It covers misusing God's name in any way. The Hebrew name for “vain” is “shaw” and means vanity, falsehood, iniquity and emptiness. Simply summed up, “shaw” means showing disrespect and this is what we do when we take God's name in vain.


Probably the most obvious way of breaking the Second Commandment is through the use of profanity using God's name in abusive, vulgar and irreverent slang and jargon. The defiling of the name of God or that of His Son, Jesus Christ is nearly universal. Since the dawn of history, most of mankind has never shown the respect to God that He deserves.


Profanity is not the only way we can abuse God's name. Anyone who carelessly uses the name of God or Christ in his everyday speech simply doesn't know God as he should. They demean and degrade Him by flippantly using His name in everyday conversation. They unwittingly announce to all who hear them that respect for God is simply not important to them, even though they may believe He exists. No matter how indifferently one may regard this kind of disrespect for God, the Third Commandment makes it clear that God Himself does not take it lightly, “for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” Misusing His name in any way spiritually defiles us in the eyes of God. Yet strangely enough, that person may think and insist that they do. In some ways such a person is similar to Job who explained his perspective of God both before and after God pointed out to him how pride was motivating much of his thinking.


God desires far more than lip service. He wants a relationship with us that stems from the heart. Jesus tells us, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45


In the end, it is not enough just to avoid misusing God's name. God wants us to love and respect Him. Honoring Him begins in our thoughts. We must know who and what He is. We must know what He requires of us and why. We should admire His wisdom, love, fairness and justice. We need to stand in awe of His power and recognize that our existence depends on His goodness. Then we should talk to Him in prayer every day. We should follow the admonitions in the Psalms to give Him thanks and praise Him, openly expressing our appreciation for all that He gives us. We should acknowledge His greatness. We should ask Him to create in us His way of thinking and character. We should request the power of His Spirit to enable us to wholeheartedly obey and serve Him.


We honor God most of all by loving Him so much that we desire above all things to be like Him and to accurately represent Him to everyone who sees or knows us. Our strongest resolve will be never to knowingly take any of God's names in vain!