You shall not swear by My Name falsely, and so profane the Name of your God: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:12
Years ago, I called on a demure, little, old lady just hours after she had undergone surgery.
That was a mistake, since she was still in that twilight which is often there when a person has not yet emerged from the anesthesia. The nurses warned me that I might want to come back later since the patient was "not quite herself." Since I knew her well, I ventured into post-op.
Well, my gentle grandma managed to open one eye and then, seeing me, she let loose with a string of foul language that would bring a blush to the cheeks of a drill sergeant. I slowly backed out, confident she wouldn't remember a word of what she had said.
And she didn't. No, she didn't remember a thing until one of the nurses told her how she had "cussed out the preacher." My lady was mortified and apologized in tears. I told her not to worry; it was the medication that had been talking, not her. Even so, it took a long time before she could look me in the eye without being embarrassed.
This takes me to the command: "Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain" (Exodus 20:7a).
All in all, that is a pretty simple command. And if you believe the Lord prioritized His directives by their significance, this -- the second of the Lord's Commandments -- must be very important to Him. I have always been amazed that a Command so significant to the Lord doesn't carry the same weight with His people.
It's true, you know Christians who would never think of stealing or committing adultery, believers who curb their tongue when it comes to the good name and reputation of their neighbors, have no qualms about misusing and abusing the Name of the Lord.
It bothers me that the people of Islam seem to hold the names of their prophet and their deity in higher regard than we regard our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. Now I am not suggesting we should condemn people to death for cursing as Pakistan has done to the Christian mother, Asia Bibi.
To do that would be to reject the freedom Christ has won for us.
Nor am I suggesting we should follow the example set in Nigeria where, this past June, a Christian pastor's wife was beaten to death by an Islamic mob after it had been rumored she had blasphemed Allah.
We dare not force a person to obey one Commandment, while we disobey another.
Far better for people of faith to take a good look at all the Lord has done and respond gratefully to His many kindnesses, His blood-bought forgiveness, and salvation. Far better to remember that if we don't show our respect for the Lord, we can't expect an unbeliever to do so either.
THE PRAYER: My Lord and my God, may all I do and say show my respect for You who have done all that was necessary to wash my soul from sin and grant me a place in the family of faith. This I pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries