What We Believe: Honoring God’s name

Commentary

Our “What We Believe” series continues with a much ignored Commandment of God: “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.” Years ago, while coaching youth football, the other coaches and I enforced a team rule: No swearing. Working with eight to ten year-olds, this was not an unrealistic expectation. Few parents would allow foul language from the mouths of babes. Yet occasionally, a child would express his frustration using the name “Jesus Christ.” While this expression was not part of the team prayer but rather a curse, the child was told by one coach, “Take a lap” as punishment. This frustrated the child even more as he defended himself by saying he didn’t swear.

This is where our culture has declined from its reverence to the Law of God, as using the Lord’s name to vent anger, or in a way that brings curses or describes disgust has become common place and casual, even among our youth. Our church, when teaching Confirmation students this Commandment, to honor God’s name and keep it holy, asks students to go to school and just listen to their classmates misuse God’s name, or as they declare “Oh my God” to express shock, dismay or disgust (herein abbreviated OMG like often seen on magazine covers). When Confirmation class meets again, most students convey they lost count of just how many OMGs they heard.

God’s name represents all that is good, wholesome and righteous to those who honor and revere Him, and God certainly deserves our reverence. He is the source of the Creation, ourselves, and the source of our forgiveness and all blessing. His grace (undeserved, unmerited favor) gives us what we could not earn for ourselves: A place of righteousness before Him. God, through Jesus Christ, has given us what we did not deserve, for we have broken this and all the Laws of God. In response, our rebellious nature has learned to curse the one who made our salvation possible, without a concerned thought for His name.

We are often asked here, “Is it really that big a deal to say OMG?” And our response is to ask another question: Why are you saying it? Are you praising God for His goodness? Is this invoked in prayer for God’s grace? Are you witnessing to the glory of God? Or is this a way to create a negative emphasis, to raise sinful emotions or to simply curse? Any time we speak using God’s name, we invoke God as He has revealed Himself to us, His essence and His attributes. God’s essence is good, His attributes holy, His purpose to love His created beings. To use “God” or “Jesus” or “OMG” to make demeaning response does not reveal a God of righteousness, and is simply sin. Yes, it is a big deal!

Can we take back our language, and use it to again give glory to God? Can we be aware of what has become so pervasive, yet sinful in nature? Can we choose our words wisely, and express our feelings in a way God would approve, and hear us as if in prayer? Let each of us start with ourselves.

If you would like further dialogue on what we believe, our church email is stpaullcfredonia@outlook.com. Sincere comments and questions please. Our churches are: St. Paul Lutheran church in Fredonia (672-6731), Immanuel Lutheran Church in Gowanda (532-4342), and Trinity Lutheran Church in Silver Creek (934-2002).

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