For those of us who make a living by communicating the Words of Life, may I offer a strong, loving encouragement from my heart?
Please be careful how you use the names of God and the Lord Jesus Christ in your preaching and everyday speech.
Against the backdrop of Jesus’s words on Pharisaical hypocrisy in prayer, He said, Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name (Matthew 6:9). To “hallow” something is to recognize it as holy, great, and set-part from all other.
So, to hallow God’s name, we are exhorted to speak and/or use His name in such a way that sets His name preeminently and transcendently above every name in the universe! His name is to be revered, protected, adored, and magnified with humility and utmost respect.
Exodus 20:7 – You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
Ezekiel 20:14 – But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out.
Acts 4:12 – And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
So, may I ask, how do we reverence and magnify the holy name of God when His name is used so flippantly in the pulpit or in everyday conversation? Here are some examples:
- A joke is told or a funny line is used when preaching and then tagged with, “Well, praise God!” or “Well, bless God!” Example of one I heard recently – “How many of you remember filling the Christmas tree the last time I was here with Starbucks gift cards? One? Oh, there’s another, two. God bless you sister!”
- In the moment of a highly emotional declaration in preaching there is the follow-up of, “Great God Almighty!”
- In the south, we are notorious for saying such things as, “Lord, have mercy!” Or, in sounding like a cry for assistance we say, “Jesus, help me!” Or, even, “Oh my God!”
- Using the Lord’s name repeatedly in prayer. Can you imagine using another person’s name in conversation as many times as we use the Lord’s name in prayer? Sometimes it sounds like Baal-worshippers on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18; Matthew 6:7).
- Although I am speaking to preachers, I must include so-called Christian comedians who throw the name of Jesus around like its any other common name and all for the goal of gaining some laughter or applause.
Isaiah 42:8 – I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.
Leviticus 19:12 – You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.
Isaiah 9:6 – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
So, preachers, myself included, let’s honor and cherish God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, by protecting and reverently proclaiming the name that is above every name!
Philippians 2:9-11 – Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.