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Nowadays, it is common to hear phrases like these: “Lord have mercy.” “Oh God!” “Well, Jesus Christ.” “Oh sweet Jesus.” Of course, sometimes when people use such phrases, they speak them with great sincerity. But too often, people use them without any consciousness of God. When we speak them thoughtlessly and without respect for God, we may well be violating the third Commandment. That third command says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” While such phrases do not exhaust what it means to profane God’s name, they may very well include them. Years ago, God chastised His people because they used His name insincerely. They used His name to make vows they did not intend to keep. They claimed Yahweh as their God, but they had no little or no respect for God or His commands. They used His name carelessly in conversation and in their prayers, but their hearts were far from God. God spoke to them through the prophet Isaiah. In chapter 38, we read, “Your necks are as unbending as iron. Your heads are as hard as bronze.” Far be it for me to judge people who use such phrases. But, at the same time, let us be very careful to speak God’s name with reverence; to keep the promises we make; to give God the credit He deserves; to live lives consistent with what we profess, and to use God’s name thoughtfully and lovingly.

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