(God said) "You shall not take the Name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His Name in vain." Exodus 20:7
The owner of the L.A. Clippers, Donald Sterling, has a big mouth; he also has a foul and prejudiced mouth.
Last month Mr. Sterling made some remarks that were profane and racist. If that were not enough, he gave an interview to CNN, which was racially prejudiced.
Now the National Basketball Association (NBA) has decided Mr. Sterling has damaged its desire to be diverse and inclusive. His language has damaged "the NBA's relationship with its fans; harmed NBA owners, players, and Clippers team personnel; and impaired the NBA's relationship with marketing and merchandising partners, as well as with government and community leaders ...."
Because of his mouth, here are the penalties which are being -- or have been -- proposed for Mr. Sterling:
1. The NBA has given him a $2.5 million fine.
2. He has been banned for life from attendance at the games.
3. Other team owners are being asked to vote and force Mr. Sterling to sell his team.
Apparently, the NBA is pretty serious when it comes to sins of the tongue. It believes a person's words ought to be a positive reflection on the things he is supposed to be supporting and holding dear.
The Lord agrees.
Maybe that's why the Lord, when He was having Moses write down the Ten Commandments, gave a very high position to His Law, which said, "You shall not take the Name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His Name in vain."
Although the Lord doesn't go into detail, it is reasonable to think we would speak honorably and respectfully of the Creator who has given us all we have, the Redeemer who offered and gave His life as the ransom price to save us, and the Comforter who has called and kept us in the saving faith.
Yes, it would be both reasonable and right for us to hold the Lord and His divine Names in high regard, which is why it must pain Him to hear just how often some of God's people use His Names foolishly, frivolously, flippantly and wrongly. The Lord's Names should not be used for punctuation or for calling down divine wrath on any inconsequential inconvenience.
No, as people who have been saved by God's grace, the Savior's sacrifice, and the Holy Spirit's ongoing intervention, we ought always, as Luther said, "to thank and praise to serve and obey Him," which would be, of course, most certainly true.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, the world, not knowing what You have done to try and save them, holds Your Name in disregard. May it be a singular mark of my language that all who hear me will know I am eternally grateful for Your graces and ongoing direction in my life. This I ask in the Savior's Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries