THE Name

10 04 2010

When my wife and I got married I began to try different nicknames for her. I could have simply called her by her given name, Carolyn, but I wanted to give her a name that only I would use for her; something unique; something no one else would call her, but at the same time, something endearing. It would have to be something with special meaning and that she would like. I tried dear and sweetheart but these didn’t feel natural. And because they were over-used, I did not consider them unique or special enough to use for my wife. At some point in our marriage, and I can’t recall when or why, I began to call her Babe. It fit and she liked it. So, that’s what it has been for nearly four decades.

The Origin of Names

Names come from many sources. Many names come from cities, characteristics, occupations, etc. If your name is Baker, possibly, somewhere in your lineage, you had at least one ancestor who was a baker of pies and cakes. Or if you are a Pittman, there is a good chance you have an ancestor who dug graves for a living.

We give people nicknames, and not always with the intent to flatter. Someone with red hair is often referred to as Carrot-top. Or if someone wears glasses they may be called Four Eyes. One of my favorite teachers in high school had a severe acne condition and was referred to, by some of the more heartless students, as Pizza Face. If someone calls you a “Benedict Arnold”, they are calling you a traitor, since the name has become synonymous with the infamous Revolutionary War general of the same name. A Jonah, in addition to being a prophet from the Bible, whom we all know for being swallowed by a fish, is also someone who is considered to bring bad luck, as Jonah believed he did to the crew of the boat on which he was sailing as he fled God .

Respect the Name

And people do not appreciate the misuse or the misspelling of their names. If someone sends you an invitation to a party or their child’s wedding, and they have misspelled your name on the invitation, you may be offended and decide not to attend.

Names once had meaning, and were held in high esteem. That no longer seems to be the case. We carelessly toss names around today as no more than personal labels by which we might summon individuals, giving little regard to the importance the owner might place on his/her name.

Respect THE Name

Sadly, this has become true with God’s name as well. The name of God, in its many forms, is the most holy and precious of all names. He tells us, in the third Commandment, not to use His name in vain. Many people take that to mean we should not use the name of God in a cursing or swearing fashion, which we so often hear. To say something in vain is to say it without real purpose; to say it fruitlessly or irreverently. The third Commandment is telling us it is a sin to use the name of God in any context other than to honor Him, call upon Him, or in some way to recognize His deity. It means we are not to utter His name without purpose. That purpose does not include swearing, cursing, joking or expressing feelings of surprise, exclamation or disappointment.

Hardly a day goes by we don’t hear in a movie, a song, a television program, or everyday conversation, someone use God’s name in a frivolous manner. Every week we hear someone say, “TGIF”. But they aren’t offering thanks to God so much as expressing joy that another week has passed-parroting a well-worn cliché. People will text OMG, or use His name in a joke, giving no thought whatsoever, to the person of God. Without giving any thought to what the word means, people will say His name in exclamation or response, or just to say it. We hear, “Oh my God”, “Thank God”, “Oh Lord”, with such regularity, it no longer has the significance God intended for His name to have when He wrote it on the stone tablets for Moses. If someone says, “Thank God you got here before the party began”, are they truly thanking God? Probably not. Most likely they are simply expressing their happiness that you were not late. Their attitude, more likely, reflects their gratitude that you were not late rather than one of thankfulness to God in Heaven.

The next time you sit down to watch your favorite sitcom on television, count the number of times you hear someone use God’s name in some irreverent way. Most prime time network sitcoms will average nine to eleven frivolous uses of God’s name in each episode. (This is not a scientific poll, rather it comes from my own experience sitting and counting the number of times I heard, “Oh my god”, on television.) In movies shown on network television, the network will censor some words considered vulgar, yet will not censor the use of God’s name, even when the actors are swearing.

Respect the Messiah

The name of God identifies the one who gave us, not only all we have, but all He has. He gave His Son and He gave His home to us. He is the one, the only one, on whom we can call to be saved. My doctor can save my body (thanks to his God-given ability) but he cannot save my soul. He cannot give me eternal life. Only God can do this. Yet in the everyday flippant use of the name of God, people use God’s name as if they are ordering Chinese take-out. They have made His name as commonplace as yours or mine and completely undeserving of reverence. It has become a part of everyday language for those who use the name in this context.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:9, when He was teaching the Lord’s Prayer, that God’s name is holy. It is to be revered and exalted and held above all names. By using His name only in its proper context we honor His name and thus, we honor God.

The casual use of the name of God is so commonplace we have become desensitized as to its importance and majesty. At the same time we are teaching our children the name has little significance beyond that of merely expressing our emotions. Thus, God is pushed further and further from the center of the family and His exalted position in the lives of many.

This is God’s earth. We are God’s people. Everything I have and am, I owe to God. The same is true for you and everyone else who has ever drawn a breath. This being the case, it is only fitting and proper that we pay the respect to God that He is so rightfully due. He is, after all, the King of all Kings. God has told us to respect Him and respect His name.

If you were called into the presence of Queen Elizabeth, it is unlikely you would ask, “How’s tricks Lizzy”? You would pay her the respect she is due as royalty. You would probably be tutored by a staff member on proper etiquette before entering into her presence. And it is likely you would refer to her as Her Majesty, or something equally majestic.

Revere the many names of God, as well as the Son, Jesus. Whether it’s Jesus, Jehovah, Christ, Lord, or Yahweh, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, we are still talking about God the Father and Jesus the Son. To use these names in such a careless manner is to show disrespect and dishonor. The name of God, in all its forms, is to be praised and used only in a way that glorifies God. If you call yourself Christian, then you are a child of God. Be sure He comes first in all you do, and use His name with the respect and reverence worthy of the King.

We are to respect the name of God just as we should respect the person of God. We are to use His name with respect and reverence. For some of us this means working to break old habits. Become more aware of how you speak and how you use God’s name and let your speech, like your actions, reflect how you feel about God.

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