When you were a kid, did anyone ever make fun of your name? Chances are pretty good they did. Sometimes it was funny. Sometimes it hurt. Of course, it hurts to be made fun of if your nose is too big, your ears look like someone left the doors open on a Chevy pickup. But there is something about your name that makes it a special target. Your name is who you are. And after you have lived on this earth for a while, your name is you. When someone uses your name, you and you alone are the sum total what they are talking about. You are the meaning of your name.
So when God says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Perhaps we should take it seriously. God’s name is not a playground joke. I hadn’t noticed until Dr. Laura Schlesinger pointed it out in her book on the Ten Commandments, but of all the Ten Commandments, giving God a bad name is the only one with a threat of immediate punishment.
I expect to the poor trembling Israelites at the foot of Mt. Sinai, the words of the Third Commandment went deep: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” But what does that mean?