Honoring God's Name

William C. Brownson

READ : Psalm 145:1-3

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God. (Ex. 20:7)

What’s in a name? Remember that scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet? The star-crossed lovers go on: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But Romeo and Juliet discover sadly that a name can have awesome significance.

In the thought-world of the Bible this is notably so. A name is closely identified with the one who bears it. To disparage the name is to offend the person. To praise the name is to honor its bearer.

In a more profound way God’s name is linked to his being, character, and self-revealing. For that reason, how we treat God’s name tells much about our attitude toward him.

This third commandment forbids “wrongful use” of God’s name. That might mean swearing by his name insincerely, as in a courtroom trial. It could mean speaking God’s name carelessly or contemptuously, as in profanity. And we dishonor God’s name when we profess to know him, yet lead shameful lives.

What do we owe to the Lord’s name? Just what we owe to God himself. Believing in his name, calling on his name, praying for his name to be exalted, honoring his name in godly living, proclaiming it to all the world—that’s our calling.


Father, in us and in all the world let your name be praised!