Today we look at the Second Commandment: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.  In Exodus 20:7 it continues by saying, “for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.”  This is probably why in various cultures at different times throughout history people have refused to even speak or write “God” for fear of misusing it.

 

But what does it mean to misuse the name of the Lord? Luther defines it like this, “We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, lie, use satanic arts or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks.”

 

Oh, my! There might be some “stuff” in our mangers here! Have you ever invoked a curse on someone or something? Whether you used “God” in the statement or not, it is implied.  Have you ever said, “I swear to God…”? Unless you are making an oath (on the witness stand, etc) swearing by His name would be a misuse of the holy name of God[1].

 

And obviously any time we lie, but bring up the name of God to bring credence to our lie, we are misusing it.  Any time satanic arts are used (think Ouija boards, horoscopes[2] and séances[3]) God’s name is being misused since only God knows the future[4]. And any time we put on a “spiritual face” (think of implying a solid prayer life, or a daily Bible reading habit) but don’t have the spiritual disciplines to back it up, we are deceiving by His name[5].

 

Take a minute here to think about what might need to be removed from your manger. Are words coming out of your mouth that are dishonoring to the One who made you or the object you are cursing? Or maybe you use the name of God so casually that no one would know if you are actually calling on the Lord or not. Examine how you use the name of the Lord.  Are there some habits that need to be “taken out of the manger” so that Jesus can reside there?

 

The beauty of Luther’s meaning to the Third Commandment, is he gives up suggestions for when we are to use the name of the Lord. We are invited to call upon the name of the Lord our God when we are in times of trouble, when we pray to Him, when we praise Him, and when we give thanks for His blessings in our lives.  So let us pray to Him now.  Lord, I praise your name! You are mighty! You have loved me with an everlasting love! Your creation, including me, is marvelous!  Thank you for all that I am and all that I have been given. You, O Lord, are gracious to forgive me for the stuff that I have accumulated in my manger. May it all be removed so there is room for Jesus. In His name I pray, amen.

 

 


[1] Matthew 5:33-37

[2] Ecclesiastes 7:14

[3] Deuteronomy 18:10-12

[4] Ecclesiastes 8:7

[5] Matthew 15:8

 

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