What does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain? Includes a lesson, 2 games, and a craft.
Needed: drawing paper and crayons or colored pencils, optional blindfold
Intro Craft: Drawing Out the Hypocrite
Give students some drawing supplies and ask them to draw a picture or write a short story about someone who says they’re a Christian, but they’re doing something wrong.
When they’re finished, asked students to share what they drew or wrote.
Ask, do Christians always do the right things? (Not always. Christians can still make mistakes and sin sometimes.)
If someone says they believe in Jesus but they never say they’re sorry for the wrong things they do and they never try to stop sinning, do you think that person can really believe in Jesus? (They probably understand about Jesus, but they don’t really believe in Him yet.)
Ask students, Does anyone remember why God gives us rules? (God gives us rules because He loves us. The rules He gives us are meant to protect us and others.)
Have you ever heard someone say (in an excited voice), “Oh, my God!”
Have you ever heard someone say (in an irritated voice), “Jesus Christ!”
What do you think when you hear someone say those things? Are those good things to say? Why or why not?
(Have a student read Exodus 20:7 , quoted here in the NIV.)
“You shall not misuse the name of theLordyour God, for theLord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.”
God says not to misuse His name or take His name in vain. How is saying, “Oh, my God!” or “Jesus Christ!” when you’re excited or mad about something misusing God’s name and taking His name in vain?
It’s misusing God’s name and taking His name in vain when we say His name, but we’re not really talking to Him or about Him.
We need to respect God, and one way we can show respect to God is to only use His name when we’re talking to Him or about Him.We can’t just say God’s name like it’s any other word. God’s name is special because God is special, and we have to show respect to Him.
Another way people take God’s name in vain is when they say they’re a Christian – they call themselves by Jesus’ title of Christ – but they don’t change their life. Like the people you drew or wrote about, people can’t just say they believe. They have to live it. It’s misusing God’s name to say that God is part of your life when He really isn’t.
Game: Alex and Alicia
Help students apply the lesson by giving advice to two fictitious students. Tell students that you’re going to them a short story. Then, they’ll have to decide if the character in the story used God’s name the right wayor the wrong way.
Story #1: Alex’s Church Story. Alex is at school, talking to his friend, Billy. Alex is telling Billy about his weekend. “We went to church and we saw this video about how Jesus died on the cross and then came back to life three days later.”
Did Alex use Jesus’ name the right way or the wrong way?
(The right way because he was really talking about Jesus.)
Story #2. Lisa overhears Billy and Alex talking. “Oh, God!” she says. “Church is so boring! I’m glad my family doesn’t go to church!”
Did Lisa use God’s name the right way or the wrong way?
(The wrong way because she wasn’t using God’s name respectfully. She wasn’t even talking to God or about God when she said, “Oh, God!”)
Story #3: After school, Alicia is rushing to put all of her stuff in her book bag and get out tothe bus. She knows she’s running late and she’s afraid the bus might leave without her. She whispers, “Jesus, help me get to the bus!”
Did Alicia use Jesus’ name the right way or the wrong way?
(The right way because she was saying a prayer for Jesus to help her.)
Story #4: Billy is also running late for the bus. As he’s stuffing his book bag, he accidentally drops one of his folders and all of his papers spill out onto the ground. “God darn it!” Billy says.
Did Billy use God’s name the right way or the wrong way?
(The wrong way because he wasn’t talking to God or about God. He was using God’s name disrespectfully.)
Game: Hearing the Hypocrite
Students sit or stand in a circle with one student in the middle. Choose another student to be the Hypocrite. The person in the middle closes their eyes or wears a blindfold and tells the group to make a noise like an animal of their choice. The Hypocrite, however, makes a different noise. The person in the middle has to guess who the Hypocrite is.
The Hypocrite then takes the middle spot and the person who was guessing silently chooses the next Hypocrite.
Play until everyone has had a chance to be in the middle or as long as time permits.
Afterward, explain that the Hypocrite was trying to blend in with the rest of the group, but we could still there was something different about them. When real hypocrites say they’re Christians, they’re misusing God’s name. And people can tell when they’re not really Christians by how they act or talk.
Holy God, help us to remember how special You are. Help us to always treat Your name with respect and to never misuse it by what we say or how we act. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
This lesson is included in my book, The Lord’s Top Ten: Children’s Sunday School Lessons on the Ten Commandments.