The 3rd Commandment
© Rhonda Pethoud 10/28/2014
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
“Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7
OMG ; ohmygod, are you kidding me? ohmygod did you see that? ohmygod it was so much fun! These are so common we don’t even think about them anymore. But God doesn’t like it because it causes His name to mean less than He deserves.
I knew we aren’t supposed to say “Oh, God” in a casual or frivolous way or, “by God”, meaning to swear an oath, or using God’s name while swearing (“…damn it” or you or “… damn them all to hell” is another colorful version of blasphemy.) I still do invoke God’s name sometimes, mostly when I’m frustrated or angry. (Things like, “God, you guys, out of my way!” to my dogs when they stroll down the hall in front of me and expect me to go at their pace instead of them walking at mine – I really don’t like that or, when I’m busy and have six things in my hands and I drop something that rolls under the desk – “Oh God!” and I have to put everything down and retrieve it) I try to remember to apologize to God when I blurt it out like that. It’s not something I want to say, but it’s a tough habit to break. I’ve heard people substitute other words like, “gato” (gah-toe = cat, in Spanish) Oh my gato! Or, like Goofy says, “Garsh, Mickey!” These aren’t working for me, though. But I am trying to be more aware and simply NOT say it at all. I hope God knows I’m trying.
People have been doing this since Old Testament times; the OT has many examples of people taking oaths “by God” because they thought that God’s wrath would not rain upon someone who was innocent.
This is why no one believed Jesus when he said he was the Son of God – to them, this constituted blasphemy: it is a Commandment not to take God’s name in vain or use God’s name to swear an oath. It was for this reason Jesus was beaten and ultimately crucified.
Jesus taught that a person’s word should be sufficient in His Sermon on the Mount. In other words, He wanted people to have enough integrity that when they said yes, they meant yes and when they said no, they meant no. James repeated this admonition, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no so that you do not fall under condemnation”. James 5:12 It’s also a sub-teaching of the double-minded man – one who can’t be clear about anything and waffles in his beliefs or actions. “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”James 1:8
Another part of this is, God hates lying. It’s the 9th Commandment. “Thou shall not bear false witness”. Pretty clear, isn’t it?
Proverbs 6:17 tells us about the six things God hates – a lying tongue is one of them. He does not want us to lie, pure and simple. Lying encompasses anything that is untrue about what we do or say. If you are supposed to be working – doing a job for which you are being paid – it is equivalent to lying if you’re surfing the internet instead of working. If you stay home “sick” instead of going to work when you’re perfectly fine – same thing, it’s lying. Sometimes we lie because we don’t know what else to say: “That skirt looks great on you!” but there is no such thing as a little white lie. We “stretch the truth”, we “exaggerate”; we beguile, deceive and mislead. While we do sometimes have a good motive when we “bend the truth” and lie to save someone’s feelings, it’s still a lie. We all must deal with this, so I’m including a great essay on the subject by Peter Eddington from September 1, 2001, entitled,
What’s So Bad About A Little White Lie? http://www.ucg.org/sermon/whats-so-bad-about-little-white-lie/
Obviously, when we are confronted with a situation where we have to say something, and we don’t want to lie, the best thing to do is, find something that IS true, and say that. I used to say, the correct answer for a man when asked, “do these pants make my butt look big” is, “I love your butt”, to be followed by a loving pat. No serious person could get mad about that because it ends the controversy on a high note.
What if a friend asks what you think of her new haircut or if her skirt looks good on her? Tell the truth – but do it in a nice way. If the skirt is hideous, tell her you always liked that brown skirt she wore much better. If her haircut is bad, tell her I’m partial to you in bangs, but it’s always good to try something new. The point is, it’s great to save someone’s feelings, but you don’t have to lie to do it. Sometimes not telling someone the blunt truth is just a matter of charm and finesse.