God’s Name in Vain

February 22, 2011

What does that mean to you?

Does it echo with spicy expletives from under the hood of your car while the mechanic rumbles around?   Is it the, ahem, colorful invectives thrown around by persons of less than creative vocabulary?

Do you hear “Jesus Christ”  not offered up in prayer but used flippantly like a punch line to a stupid joke or to express frustration because you missed a bus, lost a $20 or bet on the wrong team?

What does it mean to you?

There is a mentality among believers with whom I have interacted lately which is causing me to think and act more deliberately in regards to how I do things and how I use God’s name while doing them.

I call it “God Hype” or trying to “Out Jesus” the people around you.

You know what I mean?

It’s the incessant hyper-spiritual talk that makes the provision of God look like a catch phrase and the success or failure of a project His problem and never the responsibility of the human involved and whether or not he or she has been a faithful steward of what they’ve been given.

I don’t mind talking about the Lord. I love it. I DO believe that God’s good and perfect will is needful in all things.

I DON’T believe that we should use God as an excuse for ineptitude  and unwillingness to do the work necessary to be successful in the arenas of responsibility in which we find ourselves.

For some of these people it’s as though they don’t know where to draw the line.   When is it “glory to God” or “atta-girl” for a job well done?

If I make a dyno-mite chocolate cake and you enjoy it, how disingenuous would it be for me to say “Praise the Lord, He does all things well!” when you moan in delight as the whipped mocha cream filling gooshes between your tongue and soft palate?

I mean seriously?   Should I offer up a quick prayer of thanks and hold your hand while, together, we acknowledge that God brought us together for such a time as this?

Does God anoint us for the ordinary?  I believe He does.  I just don’t believe that skill=calling or success=anointing.

The Word says that “it rains on the just and the unjust”. *Matthew 5:45    Blessing does not always arrive synonymously with being in the “good, acceptable and perfect will of the Father”. *Romans 12:2

I’m not saying it doesn’t either.  Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father.   If it’s good it is a blessing intended to draw our attention heavenward and our hearts Fatherward.   He can’t give a bad thing.  It’s not within His nature.

Sure, He gives hard things and complicated things and He refines us by leading us through the Valley of the SHADOW of death…  But it’s still for a good purpose and to create within us a good result.

That we would look more like Him and more like what He designed us to become and not what the limitations of our selfish, sinful nature would impose upon us.

I want to be so careful to do what I can to walk with integrity (an undivided or unbroken completeness or totality with nothing wanting), not diluted by invoking God’s name like some password at an elite club.  I want to walk with wisdom to recognize the times when I’ve been using God-given skill to create something that may look successful and beautiful in the eyes of the world but doesn’t follow the parameters of the calling which I DO know He has placed on my life.

Just thinking out loud here.


  • I have Praised God From Whom All Blessings Flow at the very morsel sniffed at your home, much less delicately or ravenously consumed with pure joy of a Lord who passed out the Fruit of The Oven Gift. Maybe that’s going over board, but the very mention of your mocha frosting filling is making me grab my keys.

    On a serious note, I had a bad circumstance happen this week, and item cherished destroyed. When I prayed about the Why. I felt like God said, Quit with all the Why. it is what it is. It’s broken. Replacing the item has been hard – I am wondering if I am meant to have it. And each time I think about it, I feel like I’m getting a shrug from God.

    How easy it is to turn his name into our personal 8 ball, genie Benevolent Bestower.

  • A difficult topic to bring up among believers. It’s basically calling out hypocrisy, and who among us hasn’t been full of this at some point? Great post, Heidi.

    It’s a heart issue. I have one friend who speaks sort of in the way you’re hinting at, but who is so completely genuine that I don’t blink or wonder, and then there are others who would fall into the category of taking God’s name in vain by saying the very same words, but with a different heart.

  • Spacebunny

    These are the verses that come to mind –

    Matthew 6:1-34 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. …

    But as Jennifer says, it is about our individual hearts.

  • The name of Jesus passes my lips a dozen times a day, in agony and in praise, when I awake troubled and when I go to sleep full of his bliss.

    Yes, and also when I am frustrated and angry.

    I would like to think it is not in vain, but rather that he is the one I lean on always, the one I turn to for answers, and peace when there are no answers forthcoming.