Exodus 20:7 “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” KJV
Even though I didn’t grow up in a church-going family, I remember hearing those words. Saying “God” instead of “gosh”, or using God’s name like an expletive was a no-no in my house. “Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain”, my mom would say. But now that I’m a Christ-follower, this scripture has much broader meaning in my life.
So what’s in a name? Today, people often choose a name for their child because they like the name, not really considering its meaning. In ancient times though, a person’s name declared their parents’ hopes, dreams, and expectations for their child. For instance, the name “Samuel” means “we asked God for him”. Not all names had a positive meaning, though. The old testament name Jabez meant “He Will Cause Pain”. His mother had a difficult time in childbirth, and she gave him that terrible label. Can you imagine? At the family picnic, relatives would say, “I don’t want to sit by “He Will Cause Pain”! Every time he introduced himself he said “I Will Cause Pain.” A name is a powerful thing.
When I married my husband, I took his name as my own. My bank account, business cards, everything changed to my married name. But there was much more to taking his name than just having it printed on my checks. My identity changed. I experienced the benefit of his good name, and everything I did now reflected on him. All that was mine became his, and everything that was his became mine. Taking his name had a profound impact on my life.
But what if I had married him and taken his name, but refused to change anything about my life? What if I said “I like having his name, because being his wife has lots of benefits. But I don’t want to live with him, or change anything I do, or listen to his guidance, or spend any time with him.” You might say that was a marriage “in name only”, right?
When we become a Christ-follower, we become part of the bride of Christ. The Bible says we are “called by His name”. But if we refuse to abide (live) in Him, or allow ourselves to be changed by His influence, or spend time with Him, we take His name in vain! Our lives should look different because we belong to Him. All that is ours (our sin, our need) became His, and all that is His (forgiveness, salvation) became ours! We enjoy all the eternal benefits of His good name, so let’s not be His in name only!
Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father, I don’t ever want to be a Christian “in name only”. As I spend time with You, and learn of Your ways, I pray my life will reflect Your goodness, Your love, and Your glory to a world that desperately needs You. In Your precious Name, I pray. Amen.