Language is a wonderful tool. Even though most communication happens through body language, we still have a need for words to express a multitude of situations that we face on a daily basis. Sometimes those situations impart unpalatable words to our ears, and this is something I have to bear on a daily basis. Depending upon one’s work environment, one’s general discourse may run from placid tones to salty coarseness.
Unfortunately I deal with the latter. The manufacturing environment I work in has a lot of well intentioned people, but their language leaves a lot to be desired. I am certainly guilty of letting the occasional curse word fly, but there is nothing that causes gnashing of my teeth more than someone taking the Lord’s name in vain. For me, it is an internal reaction akin to nails on a chalk board. I also find it depressing to hear our Savior’s name used in such a manner, since speaking His name is meant to bless and not to curse. Point in case, I never fail to hear something along these lines: “I can’t believe these (insert God’s name taken in vain) parts didn’t ship today. I mean, (Christ’s name taken in vain), doesn’t the (expletive) shipping department know they need to go today. As in NOW!” Really this repeats itself throughout the day in multiple scenarios and combinations.
I often wonder why this causes such a visceral reaction in my soul. Just as not all words are equal, neither are all names equal. I’m not implying that my name or your name is unworthy, and we should all drop them for something more becoming and holy. I am implying that the name of Jesus truly carries with it a reverence and a gravitas that cannot be shaken, no matter how improperly it is used.
I have always felt this way about His name, and as I get older, His name grows closer to my lips the more rapidly I approach our eternal meeting. There is a reason that we should not take the name of the Lord in vain, which is so fundamental that it is enshrined in the Ten Commandments, which Moses brought for us to heed.
God’s name is the name that heals, casts out demons, causes the blind to see and the deaf to hear. His name spoken with praise can mend that which is broken as long as we know that our hearts must carry this name with the utmost of humility.
I cannot speak for those who misuse the name of God as to why they do, but habit certainly plays a part, I’m sure. The constant use of His name to get a point across not only diminishes the sense of the gravity of the sin but also allows others the use of this word if one is in a position of authority over others. To lead others down this dark path is not the road that Jesus intended for us to travel. This point also brings up a responsibility that we each of us has to call out our brothers and sisters when the name of God is abused, which requires moral courage.
Unfortunately, I admit there are many times I have said nothing when the name of Jesus is misused. I’ve justified it by saying to myself that “it’s not polite to interrupt” or that “I’ve said something about this language before and mustn’t beat a dead horse.” It may sound scrupulous to mention this fine point and focus on it out of all other things throughout each day, but I have a growing sense of alarm in my soul that we are quickly losing those in our culture who will stand up.
I don’t want to be lost in the tidal wave apathy and narcotic-like effect of inanities that vie for our attention on a minute-to-minute basis. I wish I had the perfect solution or silver bullet that could easily put to rest the misuse of the name of Jesus, but, sadly, I do not. I also believe that it may be the tough day-to-day fight that requires some sense of isolation from our peers if they take our rebuke poorly, so we must engage in lots of prayer and humble submission to the Holy Spirit on how to respond.
All of this is a challenge for me, since I value relationships, and, at times I can focus too much on having a good relationship with friends, family and co-workers (many times to the detriment of truth in charity). I know I’m not alone in this situation, so I pray that in knowing we’re not alone, we can lift up each other for the glory of God and the safeguarding of His name.
As our day draws to a close, let us reflect upon those around us who have praised the name of Christ, as well as those who have torn it down. Let us pray for all of them to have the wisdom to know the weight that the name of Jesus carries. Most of all, let us pray for the courage to defend the name of God. Here is a final thought from Paragraph 208 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Faced with God’s fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God’s holiness. Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: ‘Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips.’ Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a sinner before him: ‘I will not execute my fierce anger… for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst.’ The apostle John says likewise: ‘We shall… reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.’” Let our hearts carry the name of God with reverence and our lips only utter the name of Jesus in praise.