As I was walking into an event this past week, hands in pockets trying my best to escape the bitter wind and cold, I hear small children laughing and playing on a playground. “How nice,” I think to myself as I scurry toward the door. I miss hearing that laughter, the enthusiasm and charisma of little children at play. And then it hits me. Like the sharpest of knives being pressed into my back without warning, the words came so quickly. A child’s voice rings out, “Oh my God!” Was something the matter? Was someone hurt? I looked over to see if an accident had happened, but to my relief and also to my dismay everything was fine.
In this instance a child was likely just repeating what they hear all too often, the name of our Lord thrown about as if it were a swear word. However, this type of vain expression is not limited to children. It occurs in people of all ages. It happens without a single thought of guilt passing through the brain. It can be totally ingrained by culture, parents, friends, or just our innate knowledge of the spiritual world. Perhaps it is a moment of frustration, a moment of anger, or just a careless habit. The motivation is of really little importance. The name of the sacred, the divine, the almighty, flies from the lips and into the emptiness of the air only to be wisped away into eternity soon forgotten by the one who uttered its syllables. The trespass seems harmless. “Everyone does it,” we say, as our human nature leads us to reason our way as far as possible away from the verdict that is stamped on the door of our heart; guilty.
Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. Brothers, these things ought not to be so. James 3:10 ESV
Oh, if we could only escape from the bondage of our fallenness but for just a moment and completely understand the tremendous significance of such a transgression. If we could but for a moment fully comprehend the totality of God’s holiness without perishing from the shear weight of its intensity, how our minds would search in haste the depths of our vocabulary for any other phrase, any other lexical arrangement that would be any more fitting than to trample the name of the sovereign Lord or glory! Instead we constantly pat ourselves on the back, commending our high American morality. What morality? What possible grain of innocence can be found in us when we undermine the name that is above all names? The name of the same God who spoke the cosmos into existence is to man but a punching bag, a mere word.
I think of Uzzah, being struck dead by God for simply placing his hand on the Arc of the Covenant. We read passages like this in the Bible with a careless view of God’s holiness. “God, isn’t like that anymore, right?” The American god is only loving, and when we say our bedtime prayers at night and casually plead for his benevolence He is happy to wink at our sin and filthy dispositions and brush them off with little to no repercussions. That my friends is idolatry. The God of the Bible is in all ways holy, and His demand is for perfect holiness (Mat 5:48).
While I understand that mistakes happen, I make them daily, I plead to you my brothers and sisters to stop and take a long look at your worldview. If you are reading this post it is likely that your worldview is in most ways similar to mine in the sense that you at least acknowledge God as the creator and sustainer of this Earth. Such a worldview should demand that we pay more attention to God’s holiness by keeping His name sacred.
There is unending beauty in God’s mercy, and I praise Him that He is indeed so merciful toward his creation. By the perfection of the death of Christ and His perfect atonement He has indeed fulfilled all of the requirements of the law that cannot be kept by us. However, let us take a moment to stop and reflect on the great chasm that exists between the righteousness of God and the sinfulness of mankind. It stirs the heart in praise to know that every single sin we commit, be it murder, blasphemy, or a little white lie, all deserve the same punishment, namely death. God not sparing His son, if indeed we have been born again of the Spirit, has paid for that sin. The very least we can do is to honor His name with our lips.