You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. - Exodus 20:7
Being in a relationship with a supernatural Being who just happens to be the Creator of all things including you, is indescribably mind-blowing. It's also a lot like any other relationship in that the more time you spend with a person, you get closer and learn more about them.
We get to know God through talking to Him – which is prayer – and reading His word, the Bible.
The Bible is a living book. When you read it you are literally looking into the mind, thoughts and opinions of God. Sometimes it doesn't make sense or we think it's saying one thing, when it's actually something else. Believers have His Holy Spirit indwelling them and the Spirit will reveal the meanings of the words you read.
The Bible is a mirror ... and when you look into it you will see yourself as you truly are. It can be painful! But if the doctor found out you had cancer, wouldn't you want to know so that he could help you get it out?
His words are life. As you grow in Him, reading His word will get sweeter and sweeter, because you will learn more and more about how He helps you and gives you joy and peace that the world can't give you or take away from you.
Sometimes passages and verses that you thought you understood for years, one day just leap off the page with a whole new meaning that you never considered.
Take the verse above, Exodus 20:7. It is the 4th of the 10 commandments: Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. I was taught as a little girl – and believed my whole life – that just meant to not use “God” as a curse word, or to not speak it in a disrespectful or vulgar way.
But recently I heard a Jewish teacher explain the meaning from the original Hebrew. The word for “take” means to bear, or to lift or carry. The word for “vain” means emptiness, vanity, or worthlessness.
So now I understand that what it really means is to not associate or call yourself by God’s name, implying you are His, and then act unworthily of that sacred name, causing others to judge Him based on what they see in you. In other words, don’t stain God’s reputation!
Of course there are the obvious implications for our lives ... as believers we are walking around this planet with the image and name of God resting on us. And we realize how unworthy and unable we are to live up to that.
Thank goodness for the risen Christ who will live His life through us when we surrender ourselves to Him. We can't live up to God's standards, but Christ can!
While Jesus was on earth and walked among us, He told and showed us perfectly how God wants us to image Him. We image God when:
– We forgive freely, even the unforgiveable.
– We love justice and stand up for those who are oppressed and voiceless.
– We set aside what we want for the good of others.
– We refuse to be controlled or influenced by worldly standards, opting for God's ways.
– We are cheerful givers, willing to help others however we are able.
– We don't neglect our private prayer life and spending time with God. We can't live this life without His help!
– We trust and follow Him even when we don't understand.
– We stay humble before Him and others.
– We offer mercy and not judgement to others.
– We study His word and walk close to Him so that we can discern between truth and lies.
– We love Him more than our own lives or anything in this world.
It's so important, because, just like those "pictures" I spoke of last week that hint and speak of God, now we ourselves are "pictures" of God that the world can see. They will know what He is like based on what they see in us. So don't be afraid to let His light shine through wherever you go and whatever you do!