You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
In ancient Israel, the name was a deeply sacred thing. It was not just a label slapped on a thing so that we could call it something besides a thingamajig. A name — and especially a person’s name — somehow expressed the essence of something or someone. To know someone’s name was to know them. To name, or rename, someone was to effect and reflect a fundamental change in who they are. To use the Name of God, therefore, was a solemn thing and not to be taken lightly. These days, of course, the name of God and Jesus are taken lightly every day. Many people think that because no thunderbolt strikes people dead when they do so, the sacredness of names is just an ancient superstition. But it’s not so. The warning still holds and the judgment still obtains. The judgment on a culture that takes God’s name lightly is that it becomes a lightweight culture, fit only to be taken lightly, as ours so emphatically is. Today, take God’s name seriously as He takes you seriously.