Earlier this week I wrote a post asking the question “Should Christians Cuss?” I was greatly appreciative of the fair, challenging, and fruitful dialogue that took place on Facebook about this post.
I wanted to write about something else that has become near and dear to my heart on the subject of language. When it comes to cussing, there’s a fairly straight line drawn in the sand. You’re either ok with cussing, or adamantly against it. But there is another area where even those who don’t cuss are usually a bit more lenient. And I really feel led to challenge everyone who has gotten into this habit to really try to break it, to the glory of God.
His Name Is Holy.
In Matthew 6:9, Jesus teaches us how we should pray. He begins, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” The word “Hallowed” means “holy, consecrated, set apart.” A couple of years ago a devout Catholic friend called me out on something that I didn’t think of as a big deal at the time. He told me I should stop “taking the Lord’s name in vain.” He was referring to the times when I said things like, “Oh my God,” or “Good Lord.” I hadn’t even heard anyone refer to that as “taking the Lord’s name in vain” in probably 15-20 years when I was a little kid. It sounded a bit old school to me. And at first I just thought he was being a bit legalistic. But the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that he might be right. I had taken the most sacred word of worship and was basically using it as a cuss word.
In Hebrew, the name of God is not Yahwey, it is more accurately translated, YHWH. It’s a word that can hardly be pronounced, and it’s a word that especially can’t be shouted or said out loud. If you try to pronounce it, it sounds like you are either whispering or simply breathing. The things we stand in awe of are not the things we shout about, they are the things we whisper, as if we consider the moment fragile and easily lost. You don’t shout ghost stories, you say them quietly, you might even whisper them.
Breaking The Habit.
The command loses it’s meaning when revert back to our memorized King James Version. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” I have come to love the NIV translation of Exodus 20:7, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.” But it wasn’t the 10 Commandments that convicted me or convinced me that I should stop “misusing” God’s name. It was the Lord’s Prayer. And at first it wasn’t even that I was convicted and thought I was sinning. What was really stirring in my heart was that I began to desperately want to stand in awe of His name. I wanted to be lead in worship at the mere mention of it. We sing lots of songs in worship about the name of the Lord. Brooke Fraser recently wrote a song called, “What a beautiful name,” Paul Baloche sings, “Your name,” Citizens and Saints have one simply titled, “Jesus!” (with the exclamation mark), and the list goes on. All awesome songs, but for some reason I could never really connect with these songs. The scripture says, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth” (Psalm 8:9), and commands us to, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness” (Psalm 29:2), and tells us that, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). And yet when I thought of His name very little came to mind. There was no response of worship, no thankfulness, no joy, or really much of anything. I simply drew a blank.
I wanted to change that. I wanted His name to by hallowed in my heart. And while there is much more to it than to simply stop misusing His name, it seemed like a place to start. So I stopped using it as an exclamation, and instead began to reserve it for times of prayer, worship, and edifying conversation. And I want to challenge you to join me and take God’s name out of your everyday casual conversation, and hold it in high honor, only using it in a worshipful way. Let’s not be flippant about the name of our Savior and Creator—the King of the Universe. Let’s strive to be worshipful every time we say it.
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