Carrying Jesus' Name - Mike Stern

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.” I don’t normally use the King James Version of the Bible, but for some reason it always seems appropriate with the Ten Commandments.


So often this commandment seems to mean that we shouldn’t use the word “God” or the name of Jesus as an exclamation or expletive. I didn’t grow up in a Christian family. We had pretty loose rules around the house, so we kids were given a lot of freedom with our language. Using the word “God” or the name of Jesus as an exclamation or expletive was very normal. Even still, my sister would often say in response to such uses with, “Don’t say the Lord’s name in vain!” (This was always said in gest since she had the ability to make sailors turn red with the color of her words.)


My sense of understanding around the meaning of this commandment began to change when I was considering what it means to do something in the name of Jesus. For example, what does Paul mean when he writes, “And whatsoever ye do—” Sorry, still in KJV mode… 🙄 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,” (Colossians 3:17).


I came to discover that the Hebrew word for “take” in the commandment means to carry or bear. It’s the same word used to describe what the Israelite priests would do when they wore the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on their priestly clothing—they represented Israel to God. To take (or carry) the name of God in vain is to misrepresent him. (A really helpful book for further learning on this is Bearing God’s Name by Carmen Joy Imes.)


I think Paul is basically repeating this commandment. Whatever I do, in my speech and in my daily tasks and responsibilities and play, I need to understand that I am a representative of the Lord Jesus, so I shouldn’t misrepresent him. I am bearing his name wherever I go, and I don’t want to bear it in a worthless (vain) way.


So, what do you have going on today? Work? Caring for family? Running errands? Chores around the house? School? Whatever you’re up to, know that you are carrying the name of Jesus with you everywhere you go.


Which reminds me of some words of Jesus from the Gospel of John that we might encounter during our series, God Is On Your Side. This is Jesus praying to the Father: “I made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love you have loved me with may be in them and I may be in them,” (John 17:26).


May Jesus be known through you as you bear his name in every area of your life.



Mike Stern

Lead Pastor | New Hope Church