Vintage TV at its finest could be found in the Andy Griffith Show and/or Gomer Pyle. I spent many hours as a kid laughing at this character played by the late Jim Nabors. Whether it was the Gomer Pyle show as a Marine or the Andy Griffith show as a gas station attendant, you could always count on Gomer for comedic relief in his gullible nature and naivety. Can you recall his famous one-liner? “Well, Golly!”
While humorous, I did find myself feeling guilty for laughing at this fictional character who was most well known for taking the Lord’s name in vain. Perhaps it is my Independent Baptist roots or my personality, but I’ve always been hyper-sensitive to what appears to be a very clear rule in the Ten Commandments.
While we certainly should be careful when speaking the name of our God, a deeper dive into the language of Exodus 20 reveals that taking the name of our God in vain is way more than just words we say or adjectives we use. In fact, I can have the cleanest mouth and exercise strict control over my words and still fail in keeping this command. Furthermore, the truth is more of us fail in truly keeping this command than we realize.
The origin of the Hebrew word for “take” actually means “to carry.” Think this through with me. We are created in God’s image. Exodus 19 revealed that God’s mission for His people was that they serve Him as priests. In doing so their mission is to connect others to God. Having been repeated to the New Testament church in 1 Peter, our mission is the same. We represent God to the world and serving as priests, our mission is to connect the world to God. This, in fact, is the heartbeat behind the Great Commission.
When we act in the flesh, fail to love our neighbor, or fail to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit, we neglect the commandment to “carry” His name and image to the world. Our actions matter, our words matter, and our love matters.
Take time to prayerfully assess your effectiveness in taking His name to the places you live, learn, work and play. How can you better love God and love your neighbor today? While I would encourage us to continue to exercise self-control in the words we use to speak God’s name, I fear we miss the actual point when we fixate on the words of Gomer Pyle rather than loving others sincerely.