My name is...

We have much emphasis today on "name recognition". In fact, there is a process in business referred to as "branding" in which an organization seeks to get its product or service identified with a particular name. In contrast, the organization never wants its name to be associated with a BAD product or LOUSY service. The "name" has a great deal of importance - even when it is more of a 'label' than a true name. For example, if I refer to someone as "Loser", what am I saying? It isn't likely that I am telling them they lost the tennis match! It is more likely that I am 'labeling' them as acting in a way that isn't really all that 'top-notch'. They don't 'measure up' to my expectations - whatever they may be. The good news is that God doesn't give us a 'label' - he gives us a 'name'. The name we bear means a lot about how we act, the choices we make, and the evidence our life displays. Don't misuse that name - by bad choices, ridiculous actions, or any evidence that he isn't in control of your life!

“You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name." (Exodus 20:7)

The most familiar passage for this verse is probably the King James: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." Important to see within the structure of this verse is the fact God says it is "OUR" God whose name we are to uphold - to not use his name in vain. Simply put, God is reminding us of the power in his name. In other words, whenever we speak his name it is to be with purpose or intent. His name is to be spoken to offer him praise, to give him thanks, and to seek him for help in our lives. It is never to be an "idle" word spoken without conscious awareness of its use. Vain really means something which is void of substance - empty. It is something with no affect - when spoken it accomplishes nothing. As you can imagine, God's name is really not this! It is powerful - accomplishing far more than humanly imagined. God is really reminding us of the importance of his name - it is never fruitless.

Whenever we trivialize the name of God, we do him a great injustice. If his name just drips from our lips in every conversation as haphazardly as we'd use the words "the" and "it", we are doing him an injustice! His name is to be honored, lifted up, and spoken in reverence of all it can and has accomplished. When something is "misused", it is used wrongly or misapplied. God's greatest hope is for us to share the "fruitfulness" of his name in the display of the change that name has made within our lives. In this way, his name is associated with the power, majesty, and honor it is entirely due! The 'new name' we bear in our lives as a result of saying 'yes' to Christ is to have evidence of all that is behind that name. This is the third of the "rules" we have explored known as the Ten Commandments found in the book of Exodus. Look at the progression: 1) No other gods but God himself; 2) Do not attempt to pigeon-hole God into some image of him which limits him to our understanding; and 3) Learn to give his name the honor it is due. When we get these in order, we see a natural progression.

First, we come to God and are made a dynamic part of his family - not just through casual acquaintance, but deep, intimate connection. Then he opens our eyes to the possibilities of serving him - revealing himself in ways far outside our limited conception of who he is or expectation of how he works. In the tendency to exclaim all we can about what has "ignited" us from the inside, we have an obligation to never trivialize who he is to us or what he has done within us. I laid out the purpose of a rule as something to keep us safe - to avoid the hairpin turns of life which would send us on a path that was askew from the best one for us and into some pit of misery we could not dig out of on our own. Learning to proclaim God's name, value it, and to show the fruitfulness of our God in all we exclaim about him is an outcome of drawing near to him and experiencing his protection and keeping power in our lives. What's in a name? A lot! What's inherent in a 'name change"? Much more than we might imagine! Just sayin!


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