Do not take the name of the Lord in vain. We have heard this many times in relation to swearing, in fact its what we generally assume is the meaning of this verse. In the Hebrew culture it has a far deeper and more significant meaning. To take the Lords name is to take on his name, to say you are His, much like the way a wife takes on the name of her husband. So in the Hebrew culture it would be read as “do not say you are the Lords child or belong to Him in vain.” this gives a whole new meaning to the verse. How would we say we are His is vain? In the Hebrew way, it was all about how we reflect on God, “Do not take on His name and say you are His without reflecting who He is accurately” “ Do not take on his name unless you are doing things the way He would do, saying what he would say, and have the heart He has.”
This idea is reflected in the new Testament with the use of the word “Christian” the term Christian meant “little Christ” it was given because the early Christians reflected Christ so closely the were “little Christ’s” to those who saw them.
This a far higher and more involved standard to live up to than to simply omit His name from the list of swear words. It places the responsibility on us who call ourselves "Christian" to live and act in a way that accurately portray who he is by our actions. Let me give a story to illustrate.
There was a large company ran by a CEO. The CEO’s office was on the top floor and no one had ever met him or seen him. The CEO’s daughter also worked for the company and the employees know her well. The daughter uses her position in the company for her benefit. She ask the guard at the door to run and get her snack because she hungry, the guard knows that going will leave the company open to danger, but the daughter insists . He goes with misgivings, but she is the bosses daughter, In His mind though he wonders what kind of CEO he has if the daughter acts this way. Then the daughter meets a woman with a bunch of folders. The daughter ask the woman what she doing. The woman replies “ I need to get these copied and collated for the meeting this afternoon.” The daughter tells her to never mind that, but to come and clean her office instead.
The woman says “but these are needed…..”
“I am telling you to do differently” says the daughter.
The woman has no choice, it is the bosses daughter after all. In her mind she questions the CEO’s ability to run the company. And so it goes, the daughter continues to demand the employees stop what they are doing and cater to her. She never tells the employees “ My father said….” but doesn’t the child speak for the father? All the employees begin to wonder “does the boss know what he is doing?”
The daughter dishonored her father‘s name, not with using it, for she never mentioned him, but with her actions and the way she treated others.
Those of us who call ourselves Christians have taken on the name of Christ. We are to reflect who He is with our actions, with what we say, and how we see others. We are to reflect Him the way the moon reflects the sun. The moon has no light of its own. When it in the right position it reflects the light of the sun to the darkness on earth. So also are we not to reflect ourselves, but to reflect the heart and character of God, so that He shines forth to a world that is lost in darkness. It is not about us, It is about His honor and glory.