A person’s name is important to them. In most cultures, people have more than one name. A person has a family name. They also have a name that their parents gave to them. A person’s name tells people who they are and where they belong. Our names represent us. We can use a person’s name in a way that honors them. Or we can use a person’s name in a way that hurts them.
This command, like the first two, is about the way we worship* God. We must worship the true God and him alone. We must honor God and not worship an idol* or use an idol to worship the true God. And we must worship God by using his name in ways that honor him.
When God introduced the commands, he said, ‘I am the Lord your God.’ The word Lord is the most common name for God in the Bible.* When God met Moses* at the burning bush, he called himself, ‘the Lord.’ He said that he was, ‘the God of Abraham*, Isaac*, and of Jacob.* My name will always be the Lord. Call me this name for all time to come.’
The third command tells us that God’s name is important to him too. This command tells us how we must use God’s name. We must always value God’s name. We must use his name with great care. But the third command is about more than the way that we speak.
When God chose Abraham’s family, he made them his own people. Moses says that people would know Israel* as those who were ‘called by the name of the Lord’ God’s people take his name as their own. The way they act will affect the way people think and speak about God. The third command is not only about our words. The command is about our actions. We must act as people who are called by the name of the Lord.
What does this mean? We never do things that brings shame to his name. We must always act in ways that cause other people to think well of our God. We must never say that we are his people and live as if we do not know him. We must keep our promises. We must work hard and be honest in our work. We must do our work as if we are working for the Lord. If we are his people, we must do all that we do in ways that honor him. We must always live in ways that cause other people to think well of our God.
Many years after Moses, King David* wrote. ‘O LORD our LORD. How great is your name in all of the earth. You have set your glory* in the heavens.’ God’s name is not just a title. God’s name represents his holy* character. The way we use his name tells God how we feel about him. It shows other people how we feel about God as well.
Do we believe that God is powerful? Then we will not talk of him as if he were weak. We will never speak of him as if he could not do all that he wishes to do. Do we believe that he is righteous*? Then we will not accuse him of wrong. Do we believe that he is holy and true? Then we will never speak of him as if he is one who does not keep his word.
If we respect* God, we will use his name with respect. If we trust* God, we will act and speak as people who believe his promises.
This command also forbids us from using God’s name for an evil* purpose. In the days after Moses, God spoke through men called prophets.* God would speak to them. Then they would tell the people, ‘This is what the Lord says.’ But there were also false prophets in those days. They used God’s name when they spoke as well. But God had not spoken to them. They claimed to speak for God. But they did not speak the truth.
We must never claim to speak for God when God has not spoken to us. When we do this, we break the third command.