If you’ve been watching the news in the last several weeks, you will have seen a horrifying video of a man being dragged off a United Airlines plane and getting hurt in the process. It has sparked a lot of anger against United Airlines. The problem is, it wasn’t really a United Airlines flight: it was a United Airlines Express flight, which is a subsidiary—an entirely different airline flying under the name of United. Not only was it not a United airplane, but the employees aren’t even employed by United. They’re employed by the subsidiary airline. But none of that actually matters: the name United was still tarnished by this awful incident. I fly a lot and that incident has been a topic of discussion among passengers sitting near me on my last few flights. United Airlines is being unfairly tarnished by the bad choices of this small airline that uses the name United.
I was thinking about the Ten Commandments and the commandment that tells us, “Do not take the Lord’s name in vain.” What that really means is not necessarily confined to just swearing, it means ascribing to the name of God anything which is not becoming of Him. In other words, tarnishing His reputation—doing things that would cause others to question His authority and His beauty and mercy. It’s important as one of the Ten Commandments that we preserve and we do not take the name of the Lord in vain.
In the same way that United was penalized unfairly, we can—because of our behaviors, attitudes, and sometimes even our speech—cast a bad shadow on the name of Christianity and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s what he’s talking about when he says, “Do not take the Lord’s name in vain.” It’s ascribing to God things that are simply not of Him. While United gets penalized for their behavior, how much more tragic is it that we do not hold the great name of the Kingdom of God in reverence!