Recently, I have been studying through the Old Testament. Exodus 20 through Deuteronomy, specifically (I’m in Numbers right now). One thing that keeps coming to my mind as I read through the laws, Israel’s rebellion, and their complaints about how good the life they had in slavery was (it wasn’t, they were miserable there, too). They didn’t understand the vanity of how they kept God’s name. Beginning with the first of the ten commandments, God told them “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2). This should have given the people of Israel pause; the Lord God Himself took them out of slavery, they witnessed miraculous signs and wonders, it demanded obedience; and yet they complained and rebelled, often. They violated another commandment by doing so: ““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)
We often mistake this idea of taking His name in “vain” to mean using it as a curse word. Taking the Name of God in vain is so much deeper than that, though. Consider that word vain: it’s the root of the word “vanity,” which means to puff one’s self up. Other similar words we can use to define this are “profane” (where we get the word profanity), or, even more simple, to make common. God commands us not to make His name common, yet it has to do with more than words. The first thing God ordained was humanity: He made them in His image; in that light, how we live can either give God glory, or make His name common and vulgar. The first thing He ordained between humans was marriage, and yet so many treat it as a common thing, or disregard it all together. He gave Israel the law so that they could remain in His presence in purity (and not get destroyed), and yet they continually rebelled, made images of idols to worship, and regarded themselves above God’s Word. We have baptism, and communion, and worship, but we limit our worship to an hour or two on Sunday morning, and maybe a prayer or three, and perhaps a midweek service. When we say we follow Christ, and speak ill of a neighbor, we’re making His name common. When we look at God’s image (which we all are), and the institutions off God, and make them less than sacred, we’re dishonoring the very name of God.
Believer, we need to hold what God ordains as Sacred, beginning with His name, and continuing with those who are in His image. How do we do this? Living lives holy before Him by denying ourselves and picking up our crosses every day (dying to ourselves) and following in the footsteps of Jesus. This life God has given us is our chance to walk in the presence of the Sacred One, by His Holy Spirt, so that we can give glory to Him in every circumstance. As we walk in the sacred, loving God and others as Jesus did, forsaking the common and profane, we let our lights so shine before others that they may see and give Glory to God, and that is what life is all about.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
1 Corinthians 10:23-33
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.