Stubbing your toe must be one of the worst pains in the world. Well, I guess that’s not exactly true, but we sure act like it sometimes. We’ve all done it, you stub your toe on the bed and the words that come out of your mouth wouldn’t be permitted on HBO! (A little hyperbole, but the point is made.) Perhaps you’ve even been surprised with some of the profanity you’ve spoken. However, I bet if you yelled out, “Oh my God! That hurt!” or “Jesus Christ! I’m in pain!” you wouldn’t even bat an eye. In fact, most people wouldn’t. But what if I were to tell you that I’d prefer you use one of those common four letter words instead of God or Jesus? Why? Because this is a bigger deal than you may think.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” I’m sure we’ve all heard this before. This is the 3rd of the 10 Commandments that Moses receives from God in Exodus chapter 20. However, you may not be aware of the words that follow this statement. “For the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7) Meaning, God takes this very seriously.
You see, we look at the 10 Commandments and think, “Don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, yeah, those are the big ones.” We go on to assume that lying, coveting, or using God’s name as a curse word is really not that bad. “Hey, we all do it, right?” Yet, God says He will punish those who misuse His name. We usually save punishment for serious crimes. Yes, God sees this as a very serious crime.
God blesses us daily. He gives us life and breath and all the good things in this world. (James 1:17) How do we thank Him? We use His name as way to express disgust and annoyance. We treat the holy name of God as common, filthy language. How would you respond if people started using your mother’s name to express disgust or hatred? You would be offended and want it to stop. So why do we persist in using God’s name in this way?
Why do we do this? Why is our response, “OMG!” or “Jesus Christ”? The answer may surprise you. We disrespect and treat as worthless that which we hate the most. Do you realize that no other person in history is hated as much as Jesus Christ that they would use his name as a curse word? No one stubs their toe and yells out, “Adolf Hitler, that hurt!” We profess to hate Hitler and the atrocities that he committed, yet, interestingly so, not enough to trample his name through the mud.
You may say, “But I don’t hate God.” The truth is, we are all born into this world as God-haters. (Romans 1:30 cf. Psalm 51:5) We rebel against God because we desire to worship ourselves instead of Him. Our language is merely a glimpse into our hearts. Do you profess to love God and yet continue to use this type of language? Maybe this would be an opportunity to ask yourself some hard questions. “Do I really love and trust Jesus for my salvation, or have I been playing a religious game?” It’s not a bad thing to ask these types of questions; in fact, the Bible encourages we do so. (2 Corinthians 13:5, cf. 2 Peter 1:10)
I get it, sometimes things just “slip out” and we can’t help it. Or can we? Do our words really reveal part of our hearts? Listen to words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” When His disciples are perplexed about this teaching Jesus responds, “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matthew 15:11, 18-19) You see, the mouth reveals the heart, the place where our sin grows until we act upon it. If our mouths are constantly using God’s name in vain, we should be aware that this points to a heart problem.
Next time you feel you need a word to express disgust, surprise, or annoyance, please, try to be a little more creative. I know, stubbing that toe hurts and you need to say something, but don’t use your Creator’s name, use your own name. Maybe that would change the way you think about it.
By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ