How do I respond when my coworkers use God’s name in vain? I bring this up because I had asked my coworker Shauna to please refrain from using it because it made me uncomfortable. She knows I’m a Christian. She came out of the medication room at work one night and said straight to my face, “This is what happens if the GD nurse what just do her job!” I was taken aback and didn’t say much for a time. Later, in the medication room I asked her to please refrain and she said again, to my face, matter-of-factly but a bit jokingly, “I can use whatever words I please.”
@nstolz123 That is a good question. There are a few things to consider:
1 - Taking God’s name in vain is much more than simply swearing, it is an attitude towards God
2 - Swearing / taking God’s name in vain is a symptom, not the cause - our goal should be to address the need for reconciliation with God rather than only the symptom
3 - Rebuking a mocker is not only not going to help, but will invite gossip and mockery for no reason - you should only rebuke someone who is the type of person open to rebuke or a friend/coworker who will honor your desire because they care/have respect
Proverbs 9:7-8 - Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.
A few quotes from quora that I thought were helpful in terms of others’ experiences and some articles on what it means to take the Lord’s name in vain. The Lord Jesus grant you wisdom. Do you have any additional questions?
“The problem isn’t the person using God’s name in vain, that is the symptom. The real problem is getting that person reconciled with God, then the symptoms will start to disappear. If you are all judgy about it, then that person is going to see God in the same way. God is quite capable of defending His name.” -Len Ralph (user on quora)
“In my experience, it depends on how you handle it and the person you’re talking to. Generally, it doesn’t do any good. But I have been able to explain kindly that I would appreciate if they didn’t do it — this was someone I considered a friend — and we were able to work it out.” - Janet (quora)
"In his study of the Ten Commandments, the famous Puritan Thomas Watson cites twelve ways in which we take God’s name in vain. Among them are using God’s name irreverently, professing His name but not living according to our profession, worshiping Him externally but not in heart, misusing His Word, falsifying our promises, and speaking without care for the honor of God. It is a sobering analysis, intended not to micromanage our behavior but to show us how the third commandment permeates the whole of life.
By naming Himself, God not only discloses who He is, but He does so in such a way that we might know Him personally. To live by the terms of the third commandment is to recognize and confess that God deserves the highest honor; that He has singled us out by putting His name on us; that we would be entirely lost were it not that for the sake of His name He keeps and protects us; and that He calls us to live after the example of Jesus, glorifying God on earth. We are the bearers of the name of God; may all our conduct show it."
Great answer, Sean!
Yes! Nothing to add
Big help Sean, thanks! Agree that it is a root spiritual issue of the other against God. My heart really breaks for them.
Nick, correct me if I’m wrong, but you and Shauna have discussed your faith before during an interview in our Core module? I’ve faced these challenges too in the past and I have found that, if I know the person and approach them in love, asking them to respect my view, they often do and avoid doing such things in my presence. Therefore, I generally feel there’s no blanket approach and that we need to be led by the Holy Spirit in each case as the quote from Sean’s post below states.
Though I get that using the Lord’s name in vain is a symptom, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is serious. Generally, I try to address it always, but in private - especially again if I have some relationship with the person.
I pray for guidance for you as you interact with Shauna Nick. I pray for the wisdom to see as God sees and the strength to do as He says.
Matthew 12:31 New Living Translation (NLT)
31 “So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven—except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven.
@nstolz123 Glad it was helpful! The Lord grant you wisdom as you interact with them. I agree - it is heart breaking to see those who are ‘without God and without hope in the world’. May Christ grant them eyes to see and ears to hear of His amazing love and goodness!
@Jean Those are some good points. Regarding blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, I would not equate that sin with cursing or directly with taking the Lord’s name in vain. It is more of an attitude of suppressing God’s Spirit that last throughout life - check out the following article from The Gospel Coalition for a fuller exposition.
“Ambrose and the Didache understand the unforgivable sin to be opposing the Spirit’s work—not just in Jesus’ day, but continuing through his Spirit-inspired prophets in the contemporary church. Many in the church connected this saying with the “sin unto death” of 1 John 5:16, understood as an unforgivable post-conversion relapse, while others interpreted it more generally as a rejection of the gospel. Augustine, who dedicated at least one whole sermon to this topic, is typical and influential in arguing the blasphemy isn’t a specific act but a state of enmity and impenitence lasting unto death. It’s a hardness of heart that, if not repented of in this life, will prove to be unforgiven. In this sense, then, the blasphemy is understood simply as unbelief that persists throughout life.”
@Jean Glad you found it helpful! I think this is one topic that is important to address because it is very often misunderstood and can cause unneeded anxiety.
I’m with the majority, it seems, here. I generally refrain from saying anything, unless I can say it in a way which won’t be detrimental to the person or situation. But I do like to make a point sometimes if the timing is right (and my wit is up to it). The one example I can remember is when I was discussing with a workmate about possibly going overseas to do some study in Theology. He asked me how much it was going to cost and I gave him an estimate, which was quite a fair bit of money. He replied (and I write it only as a description), “Jesus Christ”, to which I quickly replied “…is the reason I’m going, but has no bearing on the financial question”. He laughed and we had a bit of a chat that followed which was amicable and, I think, helpful.
So I agree… for the most part it’s probably better not to say anything if you can. But just sometimes something can come from it depending on the situation and how it’s responded to.
Just a thought.
I completely agree with Sean and Tim here. Your co-worker has not “drank the Kool-Aid” so how then can we hold them to the same standard we ascribed too as Christ followers. It’s symptomatic. Trust me in this…just represent Christ well, look for those opportunities God uses his Holy Spirit to prompt your response in a kind and respectful way. You will be noticed for your Christian faith and influence. Life hurts, God heals, but the scars tell the stories.
We’ll said Michael. Short and sweet. I appreciate it!
I was informed by this video to change my perspective on this particular point. Please see the below. I’ve learned from Rabbi Dennis Prager, that the actual Hebrew verse was mistranslated and that it literally states: " Do not carry the name of God in vain" I hope this will be helpful as well.
All of these are really good thoughts. I think it might be helpful to think about Proverbs 26:4-5. Is it a 26:4 moment or a 26:5 moment? It’s usually 26:4.
You might also look at your workplace codes for discrimination, but be careful about using them to either punish or threaten coworkers. There is usually a provision for religious harassment, but that doesn’t mean that they will enforce them fairly. But in cases maybe it would be helpful to ask the person what they think religious discrimination is and why they think those conduct rules exist. You might get an even snarkier reply, but that could mean that the person has been confronted with their own hypocrisy. That could be a seed that convicts them (especially if you are gracious) or it could make them hate you more and target you. The most important thing you can do for a contentious person is pray for mercy and grace to reach them and soften their heart.