I’ve starterd reading the Bible through again, and this time, I have a jump on the New Year. Since I finished reading the study Bible I was using last time (which took me over three years!), I got started early on the version I had chosen for this year, my mom’s large print Good News Bible. Almost two months ahead of my Bible in a Year schedule, I am working my way through Exodus.
Yesterday’s reading included the story of the Ten Commandments. I wondered if I could memorize them in order. When I discovered I could not, I took a few minutes to repeat them until I could recite all ten without hesitation.
I contemplated these ten laws handed down through Moses to the Israelites centuries ago. The question entered my mind: How compliant am I with these basic instructions for living the Christian faith?
As difficult as it is to admit, I would say the commandment I break the most frequently is the third one:
Do not use my name for evil purposes, because I, the Lord your God, will punish anyone who misuses my name Exodus 20:7.
As I reexamine the text, I have to say I have never intentionally used God’s name for evil purposes. At least, I certainly hope not. That sounds pretty awful.
It’s the second part I’m guilty of, that misuse word. And the “God will punish anyone who misuses my name” part is pretty scary.
Actually, I like the Country Commandments version a whole lot better. Simply “no cuss’n!”
No matter how you state it, I have no doubt words have passed from my lips for which I am completely deserving of punishment. It all has to do with that patience thing I lack a lot of.
God knows I’m struggling right now with grief, and the daily frustrations of life, from a security system lock that is malfunctioning to a $750 vet bill, are somewhat overwhelming. Add to that the stress of Christmas without sacrificing the importance of its real meaning, and the little patience I do have runs out much too quickly when things don’t go according to plan.
As I block out the secular stuff that surrounds the Christmas season and concentrate on the magnificent gift God gave us in His only son, I shoulder a burden of guilt and shame over my actions. How could I ever misuse the name of such a generous and compassionate God?
Despite my struggle with the third commandment, God still welcomes me with open arms and a listening ear. I am thankful to be secure in the knowledge that I can still go to Him with a humble and contrite heart, grateful for His forgiveness, secure in His love.
Despite the frantic pace of the season, the peace and joy that Christmas is meant to bring settles around me like a fuzzy sweater and wraps me in the light of God’s understanding and grace.
Whatever your weakness is in your Christian walk, may all of you find hope and joy in God’s forgiveness and peace this Christmas!