While my wife and I were camping at Bonnechere Provincial Park last month (after our visit to Fort-Coulonge, noted in last week’s Encouragement), we sat outside enjoying the campfire one evening, and couldn’t help but overhear a family’s engagement at a nearby campsite. They weren’t super loud; the sound just carried naturally.
Sometimes, when we hear other people’s business going on at a campsite, it is unnerving, annoying, and often embarrassing. But not this time.
This young family had some of the usual interlocutions over the course of the day, talking about going swimming or canoeing or the like. And in the evening, the mom, dad and three kids sat around the campfire playing a conversational game (the rules of which we never quite caught on to, but which we enjoyed overhearing nonetheless).
What made it so astounding – and gratifying – for us is that each member of the family interacted with the other with the utmost care and respect. Not in a weird way, just in what we all would hope to be a normal way. We never laid eyes on any of them, but we would guess the parents to be in their late 30s or early 40s, and the kids to be mid-teen, early-teen and pre-teen (two girls and a boy respectively). It was obvious that they were ‘normal’ people, but that they truly loved each other.
I suspect, too, that they may have been Christians. I don’t know that for a fact, of course, but their conversation was so kind that it seemed like a wholesome Christian family.
What most astounded us was that even when exclamatory remarks were made, not once did God’s name get misused. Not once.
We never heard an “Oh my God!” even one time, which is rare – dare I say, even rare among Christians!
This got me thinking: how often do we blurt out an “OMG” without really realizing it? If you watch television, you know that tossing God’s name around has become common sport; people don’t even think about it anymore. While my instinct may be incorrect, I think the social acceptability of this may have begun with Bonnie Franklin’s character in One Day At A Time, an evening sitcom that was popular in the 1970s, who blurted out a prolonged “Oh my God” at least once or twice a show, with the laugh track ensuing.
The third commandment makes it pretty plain that such cavalier use of God’s name is not something his people should be making: “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name” (Exodus 20.7, NLT).
Many of God’s people don’t intentionally do this; for most who do, it’s reflexive, and not thought out. Still, it is disturbing when followers of Jesus do this. We should be careful with our choice of words, even when we’re frustrated or angry!
I want to encourage you today to do a language check: if you’re spitting out even the occasional “OMG”, consider rephrasing your exclamations to honour the Lord you serve. Be that family at the campsite near ours. Be the person to whom people look appreciatively when you speak. It honours the God you serve.