Fun Family Devotional on Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain

You are probably familiar with the third of the Ten Commandments, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…” (Exodus 20:7). You were probably taught and have taught your children that it means not to use the word “God” or “Jesus” as idle or curse words. We had a great sermon at our church yesterday, that explained these verses mean so much more than that. This deeper, fuller, richer understanding of this passage can help your children make better choices when they become Christians.

For a fun family devotional on the topic, pull out your wedding photos or those of other friends and relatives. Have some fun looking at the photos. After a few minutes, explain that historically and often even today, women “take the name” of the man they marry. While they don’t abandon the family in which they were raised, they are now associated with the family of their new last name. For example, anyone who meets me now associates the things I say and do with my current last name – that of my husband’s family and not my maiden name and family of birth.

This is the deeper meaning of the commandment. I won’t go into the original Hebrew word used and its meaning, but basically this passage goes beyond just using the Lord’s name as an expletive. It means don’t dishonor the name you have taken on in baptism – Christian (or in their case as God’s Chosen People). You can dishonor it by using the actual names God and Jesus in a disrespectful fashion, but you can also dishonor the name Christian, by acting in ungodly and sinful ways.

Ask your children to name some ways they might “take the Lord’s name in vain” in their lives. What are some things they might say or do that would cause others to think badly of Christians, God or Jesus and bring dishonor to God in the process? Point out that the commandment is not merely about not using the words as expletives- which is fairly easy – but honoring or glorifying God in all of their choices – speech, actions and attitude.

Your children may point out that this command is in the Old Testament and not the New Testament. Read Matthew 12:36-37, 1Corinthians 10:31, 1Peter 2:12 and Colossians 3:17. Ask them how these New Testament verses (there are others) reinforce the commandment in Exodus by restating the intent of the third commandment in various ways.

Family devotionals should end with a commitment from each participant about something he or she will do to be more like God would want them to be. For this devotional, some members of your family may need to be more careful of their speech – even eliminating OMG from their vocabulary. Other family members may choose another habit they have that reflects badly on God and work to get rid of it. Still others may choose to add something positive to their lives that will reflect God to those around them, like being friendly to everyone they see during the day. Remember to check back periodically to see how everyone is doing with their commitments and offering help to family members who are struggling to “not take the Lord’s name in vain”.

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Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

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