For some reason, I have been reminiscing recently about some old songs and artists from my youth: Jim Croce, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Simon & Garfunkel. You may be familiar with them or not—I realize they are ancient.
Those musicians still perform some of my favorites today. Another artist at that time, Carly Simon, sang “You’re so vain.” Though she wasn’t one of the artists I followed back in those days, her songs hit the airwaves big time, and “You’re So Vain” was one tune then that frequented the disc jockeys’ queues. For me at the time, I wondered what the word vain even meant. Like other words, the term has multiple meanings: conceited is one, flippant or trite is another. Today I want to speak about the latter.
Why would this even matter? Believe me, it matters. Author Robert L. Millet describes well the reason it matters, so I have chosen to use his description of the situation:
“Recently I sat with my oldest son at a professional baseball game. We were thrilled to see famous players and were excited to watch a well-played athletic contest. One thing, however, clouded the evening for me—the language of some of the fans. After only a half hour or so, the tension of the game and the desire for a win brought forth a stream of profanities from some people behind us. For the next three hours, we were subjected to crude and coarse language, including constant use of the Lord’s name as a curse or an exclamation. As we returned to our motel, I felt literally beaten down, even defiled. It was a painful experience.”
Much has been taught by others in this regard.
I know you are familiar with this type of scenario. It happens every day in the halls at high school, frequently at the work place, and all over television and mainstream movies. Coarse language and taking the Lord’s name in vain occurs regularly in sporting events and often among those having regular, daily conversations. Even those that acknowledge and love the Lord frequently find themselves using lesser terms—euphemisms if you will—which have become so common many of us don’t even realize the source of these terms is a rewording or milder reference to the actual words used to acknowledge our Father and the Son. In my mind, these expressions still desecrate deity.
So why does this even matter?
Happiness is the reward for those that are obedient. Wickedness never was happiness. Would happiness in your life and those you love be reward enough for being mindful of our references to deity?
Diety deserves our highest respect and acknowledgement. Remember the definition that was mentioned at the beginning of this article? We wouldn’t be flippant or trite or vulgar in the Lord’s presence, and we can’t use these terms without desecrating His name. Joy is the reward for those that are obedient. God will honor those that honor Him.
I like to think of it as in terms of speaking about my mother or father. Some people back in my earlier days were inclined to use terms like “old man” or “old lady” or something even more deprecating when referring to their parents, but I would never use those terms to refer to my father and mother, and I expect it is the same for you. We speak of our parents with respect because they have been so influential in our lives. We love and honor them. So why wouldn’t it be even more the case that we would speak in reverence and respect for Him that is the God of this universe, the Father of our spirits, and the source of everything that is good and brings us happiness?
I think you see my point.
So the next time you think of expressing yourself fervently with an “OMG” or “Geez” in a text message, or you have something to say with a great deal of force and passion, think about what you are really trying to say. Then say it confidently and articulately in language that doesn’t degrade yourself or your Maker.
So one more story: As I was on my way to work today, I noticed a home in our neighborhood decked out with balloons and streamers and the big sign across the front of the house welcoming home a missionary. I know something about what those in the family are feeling today and the excitement they have in seeing their son’s return after two years away on a full-time mission. If you and I have that much excitement for the return of our son once he’s been gone for two years, think about what the God of heaven is feeling to have His children return to Him after a lifetime away. This is a magnificent opportunity for both you and Him!
My favorite part of the prodigal son video (found at the end of this article) made by the Church is when the father runs to his son when he finally comes home. I think that’s the way it’s going to be when we reach heaven. And someone that loves us that much deserves our reverence and respect today. That parable is all about us!
We show that kind of adoration by the things we say and the life we live. Commit to making your language and terminology always show love and respect for the One who gives you everything.
I know that great day is something we all look forward to because we love and respect Him in both word and deed.
“Lesson 21: God Will Honor Those Who Honor Him,” Old Testament Class Member Study Guide
“Respect and Reverence” by Margaret S. Lifferth, April 2009
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.