PASTOR'S PEN: The Third Commandment

What does it mean to “bear or carry someone’s name”?  Let’s think of it this way.  You’re at home waiting for the cable guy to come and install your cable.  You receive a message with a picture of Pete from the Really Fast Cable Company saying he will be there in an hour.  About two hours later Pete pulls up with his van, half on the driveway and half on the lawn.  You’re frustrated but thankful he’s finally arrived.  Pete comes up muttering to himself.  He doesn’t look happy at all.  After Pete utters a few coarse comments, you show him the living room and bedroom for the installation.  He grabs his tools and starts to work, swearing every other second as he does the installation.  Later, you walk into the bedroom to see if Pete needs a drink of water and catch him digging through your jewelry box.  You immediately get him out of the house and make a call to Really Fast Cable.

What do you think happens to Pete after that encounter?  Exactly.  Most likely he will be in for some harsh words from Really Fast Cable and will probably be looking for a new job.  Why?  Because Pete, whether it was on his uniform or not, was carrying the name of Really Fast Cable.  He represented that company and everything he did that day dishonored their name in that household and, one can assume, ruined their reputation all over that neighborhood.

This is what the third commandment of the Ten Commandments is all about.  We read it many times as, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” (Exodus 20:7, NKJV).  But in reality it says, “You shall not carry the name of the LORD your God in vain”.  (‘vain’ means carelessly or without purpose)  Do you notice the difference in those translations?  In today’s English, we read “take the name of the LORD” as something we simply say.  We think it is a verse against making a statement like “O God, I can’t believe I spilled the milk!” or a verse telling us not to swear.  It’s not that we should say those things per se, but this verse isn’t merely about ‘saying’ God’s Name carelessly.  It is, in fact, a verse about ‘carrying’ God’s Name carelessly.

When you claim to be a Christ-follower, you bear His Name.  It is something that goes with you – into the bedroom, into work, out with friends, spending time with family – everywhere you go, you carry the Name of Christ.  It’s like wearing a uniform that says, “God’s Company” on the back.  Everything you do reflects back on God.  The third commandment is that you are not to bear that Name nor live your life in a way that is careless or dishonorable toward God.  In fact, 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”!  Paul is saying that EVERYTHING you do, rather than bringing dishonor and ill repute to God, should bring honor and glory to His Name.

Think back to our cable guy, Pete.  If he had been on time, parked correctly, apologized for the delay, was courteous, smiled and did his job with pride then he would have brought honor to the Really Fast Cable Company.  The household where he worked would have noticed and probably, by word of mouth, the entire neighborhood would have known.  Pete could easily bring honor or dishonor to the company where he worked, but you can do the same with the Name of God.  Think through your words and actions today.  Do you, the one who calls himself or herself a Christ-follower, bring honor or dishonor to the Name of God?