The Lord’s name

About seven years ago, there was a study that claimed women speak two to three times as many words per day as men. This study claimed that men speak about 7,000 words and women speak about 20,000 words per day. Researchers have never been able to validate that claim. Recently at the University of Arizona, new research came out that claims that men and women use virtually the same amount of words per day, between 15,000 to over 16,000 words in a single day. I was telling Megan, my wife, about these studies and how one study says women speak over twice as much as men. She thought about it for a while and said that the reason women use twice as many words as men because they have to repeat everything they say.

Whether you say 7,000 words or over 16,000 words, you and I use a lot of words every day. God created us to use words to communicate, but what happens when you do something over and over again, you don’t really think about it anymore. It is why people think they can use their phones while they drive. Our words just fall out of our mouth. They come so fast sometimes we hardly have time to catch our own breath. 

In the ten commandments, we once again are confronted with the fact that the standard we are being asked to live up to is not my own standard, what I think, but it is God’s. Jesus talks about the importance of every word that comes out of our mouth in Matthew 12 when He said

“I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.”

If we are to give an account for every word we say, which we will, what is the standard that we will be judged by? It is very easy to use our own standard instead of God’s standard but when we do that, we become very flippant about our words and especially how we use the Lord’s name. 

I fear that we all have become so casual with the name of the Lord that we have lost some of the reverence due to the name of God. Psalm 89 says

“God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints. And to be held in reverence by all those around Him.”

Psalm 111:9 says

“Holy and awesome is His name.”

We weekly pray “hallowed be thy name”. Hallowed means to honor as holy, sacred, set apart. There should be a distinct difference in how the saints talk than the world around us talks.

There are two common ways to take the Lord’s name in vain. First, to call God to witness a lie. Have you heard someone say “I swear to God”. Unless you are taking a vow that you intend to keep until the day you die, you are taking the Lord’s name in vain and you should not do it. Second is using God’s holy name in small, irreverent, light, or empty ways.   

God reveals himself in His names. We learned last week that God is not something we see but He is a spirit. When we start to look at things for worship, we make idols of them. If God is a spirit, then we only can know God by what He tells us about Himself. He is Jehovah, Yahweh, Adonai, Lord, God, The Holy One, King. These are just some of His names but they describe who He is. When God speaks His name, the mountain shakes. You don’t know if you will survive. If that is all true, then how can we use God’s name in any other way than in deep reverence, awe, and worship. How can we use God’s name in a flippant way? Or even worse, using God’s name or Jesus’ name as part of a curse word?  

This commandment is not about coming up with a list of words not to say but it is talking about something much deeper. 

There is a connection between what we think about, meditate on, and what comes out of our mouth. Luke 6 says “it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks” so it is not as much about not saying certain words but more about what do the words that are coming out of my mouth tell me about my heart. 

At the end of Joshua’s life, he tells the people of Israel in Joshua 23 “You shall not make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause anyone to swear by them.” Joshua was so concerned about the strong temptation of becoming like the people around them that he told Israel to not even talk like them. We all are greatly influenced by the people we hang around with, the movies and TV programs we watch, and what we read. They influence how we think, which impacts our heart, which in turn, influences what we say. We blend into our surroundings. Joshua would tell us if you are a redeemed child of God, then you should talk differently than those who are not and the words that are common all over, that profane and dishonor God, should not cross our lips ever. However, I fear that we have a school vocabulary, a home vocabulary, and a friends vocabulary. We speak one way in the classroom but another way at recess. Words we would never say at school, we have no problem saying at home. This should not be.    

The Bible has a higher standard than any we put on ourselves.  This standard applies to all of us. Here is the standard. It is in Ephesians 4:29

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

What is the standard? Ephesians 4 says what should come out of our mouth is talk that builds up and benefits those who listen. Another translation says it “gives grace to the hearer”. What is unwholesome talk? It’s taking the Lord’s name in vain, using curse words, saying filthy things and telling dirty jokes. These are all unwholesome. The command is clear. Do not let it come out of your mouth.  

A paraphrase of Proverbs 18:21 is “Words bring life or words bring death, you choose”. Words are not neutral.  James 3 says if you can bridle your tongue, you will be perfect. Is it possible to be perfect? No. Then the point is that no one can bridle their tongue. 

James is using an analogy of horseback riding. The bridle goes around the horses head and is connected to a bit which is a metal bar that goes across the tongue of the horse and when the rider pulls back on the reins it puts pressure on the tongue and that will make the horse slow down and stop. I grew up riding horses and from time to time people would want us to work with wilder horses so we would use bits that had this curve in the middle to let the horse know we meant business. 

We all need a bridle with a bit on our tongues and some days I need the more severe bit.  

It is a constant battle and it is fought in the deepest parts of your heart and mind. These words come from the abundance of the heart. Your heart is like a cup and it gets filled up with what you watch with your eyes, what you listen to with your ears. It is being filled up and eventually, what is inside the cup will spill over in the words you use. It takes a little time. It doesn’t happen right away, but the Bible says it will happen. The solution isn’t just to watch your words but it is to take care of what you are filling your heart up with. The question is do you want your words to bring life or death? Then fill your heart with things that bring life. 

If what I’ve said is not hard enough, there is one last part of this commandment that may even be more challenging. Not only are we to honor and revere God and His holy name with our words, but we not to remain silent when someone around us takes the Lord’s name in vain. To put it bluntly, when those around you are abusing the Lord’s name, to the best of your ability, it is wrong to stay silent and to do nothing. We are not to participate in the sins of others and by staying silent, even if you do not say things that take the Lord’s name in vain, you will be guilty of wrong by doing nothing about it. Now I am not talking about tattling on everything someone else does that you think is wrong. You are to take care of your self. If I wanted that I would just deputize the entire kindergarten class and no one would get away with anything, including the staff. No, what this commandment is saying is when those in your company are taking the Lord’s name in vain, blatantly speaking unwholesomely, do not be silent. It is a call to action to defend the great and glorious name of God by speaking the truth in love. 

When we pray Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Let’s mean it by our words and actions and in doing so, our school will sound differently because we are choosing words that give grace to the hearer, we speak words that bring life, and we stand up to defend God’s holy name. If you and I do that then the grammar school will be taking seriously the third commandment and we will be showing genuine love for our Great God and His awesome name.