Holy is His Name

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him unpunished who takes his name in vain,” (Exodus 20:7 (ESV)).

God’s third commandment tells us not to take God’s name in vain. Most of us understand this means not using the Lord’s name as a swear word. But it’s more than that. Taking the Lord’s name in vain means invoking it in a manner not reverent. Any casual or flippant use of His name is wrong because it undermines God’s glory and the significance of what He did for us.

For many years, the expression, “Oh my God!” was not acceptable in civilized conversation. Today it’s common to hear it used as an exclamation of surprise, excitement, or ridicule.

 As texting became a way of life, acronyms were established to save time and space. “On my way” became OMW; LOL meant “laughing out loud;” And OMG translated to “oh my god.”

As a result, the usage of OMG spilled over into pop culture, including television and movies. As an example, the show “Gossip Girl” features a group of teens with OMG playing a central role in the dialogue. And of course, it’s all over social media. On Instagram, the hashtag #omg showed up in over 21.3 million posts!

What’s more, a scan of my inbox revealed the acronym in the subject line of recent promotional emails.

OMG. The Best Coffee Cake Ever! OMG. Congratulations! OMG. This 50% off Coupon is Huge OMG.  There’s $10 off in here. OMG. I Can Meditate

I have no study to back it up, but the emergence of OMG in textspeak seems to correlate with the escalation of the verbal “oh my god.” As this phrase grew in usage, it grew in acceptability. People become desensitized when stuff is repeatedly seen or heard.

In my personal life, I hear the offensive phrase flung around at work and at events such as awards ceremonies. A good friend says it often. He’s Christian but feels no conviction invoking God’s name in this manner. He grew up hearing it from the adults in his life and it’s become an ingrained habit.

I experience an aversion to the words, whether I hear or read them. Although my reaction is emotional, it affects me physically. It’s like tiny darts are striking me, and as stoic as I try to appear, my face can’t always resist wincing.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. Galatians 6:1a (NIV)

The oft-used term was rattling my peace, particularly when I heard it from my friend. I spent some time fretting over it, and then I felt led by the Spirit to bring it into the conversation. Using gentle words, I let him know it hurt me and why. We talked about Exodus 20:7 and the various meanings of what it meant to take the Lord’s name in vain. He promised to stop saying it.

He did use it less, substituting “oh my gosh” instead, but the sinful expression still slipped out. Sometimes I’d point it out, sometimes not. Sometimes I’d get angry and want to let him have it but never did. I wasn’t sure what to do, and it left me downhearted.

So, I took it to God, seeking His solution. I then read and reflected on scripture with the word peace. These two verses spoke the loudest:

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

“Peace I leave with you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 (NIV)

To let the world, or anyone else, determine my level of peace was wrong. God is the only one who can give me peace, and I’m the only one who can keep myself from receiving it. My peace was strictly between God and me.

Now when I get upset with word choices, I immediately release it to God and move on. As long as I keep my eyes fixed on Him, the peace of God is with me. By protecting this peace, I’m better able to love others.

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name, Matt 6:9 (NIV)

Hallowed: set apart as sacred, consecrated, or holy

Invoking His Holy Name in any way other than praise is wrong. We must take care to use the name of the Lord our God in only ways that glorify Him.

How could we do anything less?

To let the world, or anyone else, determine my level of peace was wrong. God is the only one who can give me peace, and I’m the only one who can keep myself from receiving it. My peace was strictly between God and me. Click To Tweet

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  1. Yes, Candyce, I agree. God’s Name is completely Holy. I hope the Church starts to see this more and that reverence returns like never before. How we use His Name is important. I couldn’t agree more that when we do use His Name it should be to glorify Him! Thank you Candyce for posting this article.

  2. I feel you pain, Candace. I never like this abbreviation because of how it is used. As a protest, I’ve resisted all abbreviations in my emails and texts. It takes longer, but I write everything out. This doesn’t mean I say “Oh my___.” I don’t. Of course I will confess, to saying some ugly words when a horse steps on my foot, but not using God’s name in vain. Thanks for sharing about peace. Very helpful in dealing with the stresses that we face on a regular basis.

    1. Thanks, Katherine. I cuss sometimes too, but I was raised to avoid using God’s name in such a way. And I don’t judge when others do it — just merely observe. I do, gently, let close ones know it bothers me and why.

  3. Candyce good article. Is though provoking. So here are a few things I know.

    My youth was one of personal face-to-face relationships. The emotional intelligence developed by speaking directly with someone allowed for seeing expressions, hearing inflections and intonations, and being able to see reactions. It worked both ways. The communication fostered respect.

    As a youth, church was an expected part of the week. Sunday school, big church, scouts. Each of these activities reinforced the idea we would all be accountable to God. Over the years, my view of God has become more personal. Yet, I have never believed that being disrespectful to the creator of the universe would be prudent.

    Today, it is painfully obvious, that the cold impersonal cell phone has lured generation after generation away from seeking values that family and faith used to instill. The “whatever” generation scarcely looks up and has missed out on developing face-to-face relationships along the respect they foster. It is almost as if the emoticon has become the hieroglyphic writing on the cave wall.

    All this said, perhaps, the real problems isn’t God who is affronted by casual language usage but rather a culture that has abdicated teach real values to its youth.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Mr. LaVelle. I agree with you about the real problem. This is also the underlier in the more serious problems of the day, such as gun violence and mass shootings.

  4. Enjoyed your post, Candyce. This phrase bothers me as well. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart please God.

  5. I promise when I use it, it always implies “Oh My Goodness.” I never new that it was supposed to mean anything else. Guess that’s why God made me an old soul. Will try to be more careful in my speech ma’am. I love your ending Ms. Candyce. You are so right ma’am; our peace and joy come from God. Nothing in the world can give these to us, but the world sure tries hard to rob us of them. God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. Young people today do not see OMG as blasphemy because, for them, it simply serves as an exclamation mark. Maybe I’m being a bit uptight about that. But have you noticed a rise in the use of the spoken “Oh, my God” in recent years? That’s what I take issue with.

  6. I’ve never liked the OMG acronym and always chose to write it OMGOSH or OMGoodness, the few times that I texted it. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t let other unwholesome talk come out of my mouth, and I pray about it and work on it often! Thank you for the reminder that all of my words should glory and honor Him, ALWAYS!!

    1. Good solution. And maybe OMGosh models something more circumspect for others? I don’t judge others who use OMG, but I do wonder if it’s what’s led to the increase in the phrase “oh my god!”

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