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Pastor's Point of View

ZioN NoiZ

April 2012

Zion Lutheran Church

424 E. Warner Ave.

Guthrie, OK 73044-3348

Phone – 405-282-3914                                                            Fax – 405-282-3918

Rev. W. R. Rains, Pastor                                                   Home Phone 405-728-8330   

 e-mail: faithokc@aol.com                                           website: zlcguthrieok.org


Sharing Grace: God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense



Volume IV                                                                                                                                   Number 5


Pastor’s Point of View


“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7


Dr. Dale Meyer, President of Concordia Seminary St. Louis, writes about a friend that had asked him what he thought about the causal expression, “Oh, my God!”  Dr. Meyer says that he answered with a true story that a woman had shared with him years earlier.  The woman told him that she was the daughter of a minister, and as a young girl had picked-up the expression “Oh, my God!”  She then told about the evening that her father decided to teach her a lesson.


She recalled her father calling out “Oh, Grace.”  Upon hearing her name she went to him and asked, “I heard my name.  Did you call me?”  Without an interruption in what he was doing, her father replied, “No, I didn’t call you.”  She went back to what she was doing, but a short while later again heard “Oh, Grace.”  Once again as a dutiful daughter, she went to her father and asked, “Did you call me?”  He replied again, “No, I didn’t call you.”  She told Dr. Meyer that the same thing happened several more times.  It reached the point where each time she responded to “Oh, Grace” she became a bit more irritated.  Finally, her father explained to her what he was doing.  He asked, “Grace, how does it make you feel when I call your name but then don’t talk to you?”  He continued: “That’s how God feels when you call to Him, saying ‘Oh, my God’ and then don’t talk to Him.”


The “Second Commandment” says: “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.”  In the Small Catechism when Luther asks: “What does this mean?”  He provides us with this response.  “We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.”  In short we should not use God’s name carelessly, recklessly, or inappropriately.


Sadly, the misuse of God’s name has become so rampant around us that it hardly even bothers us anymore.  We’ve become so accustomed to cursing and swearing that when we hear it, it barely registers with us.  The use of satanic arts can fill an article of its own.


Luther writes in the Large Catechism that just as the First Commandment “has inwardly instructed the heart and taught faith, so [the Second Commandment] leads us outward and directs the lips and the tongue into the right relation to God.”  With that in mind, what’s it going to take for us to have sensitive hearts again?  What’s it going to take for us to hold and revere the name of God and to honor it in such a way that those who are present with us know that we don’t tolerate the misuse of the name of the Lord our God?  What will it take for you to take this commandment seriously?


This commandment means more than just avoiding using God’s name in a slang or profane way. It means that those of us who are in a relationship with Him must honor His name in all that we do and say.  The name of God has to do with His character, and when we live in a relationship with Him, we become accountable for reflecting His character in our lives.


As children of God, you and I bear His name.  Our behavior reflects upon Him.  A young man about to go off to college received this advice from his father, and it is good advice for us as we go about each day as a child of God.  The father said to his son: “I’ve only got one thing of value to give you and that’s my name.  Don’t take my name anywhere I wouldn’t take it, and don’t do anything with my name that I wouldn’t do with it.” 


Another reason that we should not “misuse the name of the Lord” is because understanding the name of God will help us to praise and thank Him as He comes to us through the Word and the Sacraments.  As Luther states in the Large Catechism, “The first things to issue and emerge from the heart are words.”  Psalm 8:1 says: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens.” 


A third reason not to “misuse the name of the Lord” is as Proverbs 18:10 reminds us: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”  God’s name provides protection for believers.  Psalm 46:1 also acknowledges that God is our strength.  The psalmist says: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”


When we know and appreciate all that God has done for us in spite of and because of our sins, we are too busy praising and calling on His name for help to have the time or desire to misuse it.  We are to take God’s name seriously, because His name stands for all that He is, and all that He does, and all that He has promised to do for us.


God’s name is powerful.  It carries His authority, and it works.  If you doubt it, think of the power of the most common name: Mom.  The kids are in another room playing and then you hear them squabbling.  You know what’s going to happen next.  One of them will go running to Mom crying.  “Mom he won’t leave me along.”  Mom will then say, “You go tell your brother that I said to leave you alone.”  The child then runs down the hall and the first words out of his mouth are: “Mom said…”  The child gained power.  How?  By using Mom’s name the child gained power.  How much more power exists in the name God has given to us, His name.  His name brings power into our own lives and the lives of those around us.  May we never misuse or abuse His name.


Today the misuse and abuse of God’s name is like “Pocket dialing”.  “Pocket dialing” is when you sit on your cell phone or somehow bump it so that you make an unintentional phone call.  We “pocket dial” God whenever we thoughtlessly call out “Oh, my God!”  If the outburst is meant as a genuine prayer, great!  If not, it is just mindless babble.  Remember that God promises he “will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”  God will not stand idly by as we use His name as a sort of punching bag on which we take out our frustrations and fears.


As Luther reminds us in the explanation to this commandment, we are “to call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.”   


Pastor Rains