You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name. Exodus 20:7 NLT
While we might think this commandment refers to blasphemy, it’s far broader. I’ve been quite shocked over recent years to observe how human interaction has deteriorated. We were recently in a collision in a car park. A car swung into the parking bay next to us as we were leaving and knocked our front wing. I was confronted by the male passenger who emerged swearing and calling me all sorts of names. I attempted to reason with him as his female companion, the driver, emerged, looking quite shaken. Eventually he took himself off to march up and down muttering under his breath, while we talked with the driver.
Road rage, confrontations on stations, criticisms exchanged between friends over coffee, all indicate a loss of respect for other people. Every one of us is made as an image-bearer of the divine and must be treated with both respect and dignity. We carry within us the divine spark, which awaits ignition in many. This deserves to be recognised and respected. When we speak negatively of the Church, we attack the bride of Christ.
Just as I struggle in serving God, so does everyone. Just as I want to be forgiven and accepted, warts and all, so does everyone. Why will I withhold this gift from others? When I failed to respond in kind to the angry passenger in the service station, it prevented the situation from escalating. While it left him managing his own anger and frustration, we were able to organise things appropriately. God invites us to consider our responses in pressured situations carefully and take action to honour God in the heat of such uncomfortable moments. We misuse the name of God every time we attack somebody’s reputation.
Have you dishonoured Christ’s bride (the Church) by the way you speak of her?
Lord, may I in my speech have truthfulness and love and in so doing, honour you.