An Empty or Full Name?

Steven Rodriguez

Read: Philippians 2:5-11

God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. (v. 9)

What does it mean to “take the name of the Lord your God in vain?” (Exod. 20:7). In the ancient world, a person’s name was a core part of who they were, as real as the color of their eyes, or the sound of their voice. A name was more than a placeholder or an empty sign. The name of “the Lord” (Yahweh) was linked in a deep way to God’s presence (Exod. 3:13-15). From this perspective, taking the Lord’s name “in vain,” or “as vanity,” is treating the Lord’s name as if it is empty, hollow, nothing. It is speaking as if God does not exist, treating him like an imaginary friend.

When Jesus Christ became human and died on the cross, he conquered this vanity in a surprising way. He made himself nothing for us. Paul writes that he “emptied himself,” sinking into the nothingness of death itself. But after he rose from the dead and ascended on high, Jesus’ name was not empty anymore. No, quite the opposite: as the ascended Lord, he “fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23), and the whole world will one day bow to worship not an empty name but the One whose name is above every name, Jesus Christ.

One way that we can fulfill the third commandment is by always and everywhere speaking and acting as if Jesus is Lord of all. God doesn’t want us to treat his name like it’s nothing. It’s everything. —Steven Rodriguez

Prayer: Lord, help me to pray like you’re actually there.