A fellow pastor recently told me about a little boy who goes to their church’s preschool. Let’s call him Pete. Pete’s teachers have struggled with him because of the language he uses. Pete has grown up in an environment where f-bombs and cursing are a part of the everyday vernacular.
To their credit, Pete’s teachers have taught him to not use God’s name in vain – so much so that Pete began to think he could never say the word “God.”
“No,” one teacher told him. “There are lots of good ways to use God’s name. You can use God’s name to pray to him and to praise him.”
“Oh,” Pete replied, “so I just shouldn’t use God’s last name then?”
The teacher was confused. “What’s God’s last name, Pete?”
Of all the commandments, the second seems to be the most nitpicky. Chiseled on the stone tablets we find God’s great moral standards. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal.
Sins against such commandments hurt other people, destroy marriages and tear apart the fabric of society. But what’s the big deal about using God’s name without thinking? How did OMG become equivalent to murder and adultery?
What we often fail to see is that the way we use God’s name reveals our inner attitudes toward him. When we mindlessly use his name to curse or swear – when we flippantly say, “Oh my God” throughout the day – we are revealing a lack of awe for God in our hearts.
We are forgetting that he is the all-powerful God who created every last atom of our universe. He is the eternal God who has always existed. He is the God who fills all things, who sees all things, who knows all things.
He is the God who could squash you like a bug.
When we use God’s name vainly, disrespectfully or flippantly we are showing that in our hearts and minds he is a small God. Saying or typing OMG doesn’t seem like a big deal compared to other sins, but it makes God angry. It deserves his eternal punishment in hell.
Thankfully, the eternal, all-powerful God who fills all things is also a God of love. In fact, he loved you so much he gave up the glories of heaven to be born in a barn. He loved you so much he suffered his own terrible fury for every time you treated him as small.
Jesus suffered God’s punishment for you. God forgives you for every time you’ve broken the second and all the rest of his commandments. He saved you from the fires of hell. Who God is and what he has done for you demands and deserves your respect.
So speak God’s name with deep reverence and holy joy. Show your children what it means to have a loving respect for God. Kick the habit of using God’s name as word filler in your everyday conversations.
And for Pete’s sake, stop using God’s last name.