Growing up in the church world, you hear about the Ten Commandments a lot. These direct commands from God adorn rooms of classrooms and courts everywhere and it’s not uncommon to memorize them for church or Bible class.
Many of these commandments are pretty simple – don’t kill, steal, or covet, have nothing above God, and don’t commit adultery. But there’s one I feel that’s slightly misunderstood, like there’s something more below the surface.
When you hear someone talk about the forth commandment, don’t take the name of the Lord in vain, it’s easy to take that as don’t say “oh my God” or something of that nature. While I think that’s certainly part of it, I’ve heard and read some pretty mind-blowing implications beyond this basic meaning.
When a man and a woman get married and become one, lots of big changes come. One of those is that the wife takes the name of her new husband. She abandons her old identity to take that of her betrothed.
Great. So what does this have to do with the commandment?
Throughout the Bible, you’ll find references to us, the church, being the bride of Christ (Is 54:5, Eph. 5:25, Rev. 19:7). Just like a marriage, a myriad of wonderful things happen when we accept the love of Jesus into our lives. When we accept salvation, God turns us into a new thing with a new name – His name.
Did you catch that?
When we accept Jesus into our life, we take on His name as our own.
Here’s another spin with the same principle. We’re also referred to as children of God numerous times throughout the Bible (John 1:12, Gal. 3:26, Rom. 8:16). And who do children receive their name from? Their Father.
Regardless of which way you want to look at it, as a Christian, you now have God’s name attached to yours. When God sees me, He no longer sees just Jordan Wilkinson. He now sees Jordan Wilkinson Christ, if you will. Because I am now a part of God’s family, I now bear His name as my own.
This has so many implications for you and me. This merging into God’s family gives us a whole new family outside of the one we were born and raised in. We receive so many brothers and sisters to do life with. We’re guaranteed a place in heaven just for us. We belong somewhere and to Someone.
And that brings us back to the commandment.
It’s so easy to look at that command and take it solely at face value. But looking at it with the knowledge that you bear the name of God, and it takes new meaning.
The word “vain” has a couple different meanings. The first deals with pride, taking too much stock in your appearance or achievements. The second is what interests me more.
Dictionary.com gives another definition: “without real significance, value, or importance; baseless or worthless.” Powerful words that evoke lots of strong emotions. So if we use this definition, we’re saying that the name of God is basically worthless. And we would never do that, right?
Except we do it all the time.
I know I’m guilty of constantly putting myself down, of telling myself I suck and will never amount to anything. And I know I’m not the only one who does this. We all go through periods where it seems like we never get anything right. We try and try but it never feels like it’s good enough. Our entire existence feels like it has no value, like we’re worthless.
But when we enter into a relationship with Jesus and take on His name, nothing could be farther from the truth. We are loved, accepted, and worthy. Beautifully and wonderfully made. Constantly saying otherwise and putting ourselves down is not only false, but I’d say it’s like a slap in the face to God. He made you for a specific purpose and has equipped you with everything you could need to tackle that calling.
I definitely have not mastered this concept yet – pity parties still occur way too often in my mind. The voices in my mind still yell at me about my failures and how I’m worthless. But lately, when those voices have started their assault, I’ve started reminding myself that I bear the name of God now. And with that name comes an infinite amount of love and acceptance and the power to send those voices screaming back to hell.