The Economics of the 10 Commandments (Part 2)
The 2nd Commandment
Thou shall not take the name of the LORD in vain (Ex 20.7; Deut 5.11, NAB). You have heard that it was said to the men of old, “You shall not swear falsely…but I say to you, do not swear at all (Mt 5.33-34, NAB).”
Most people, even non-Christians, recognize that the words we use help identify who we are to those around us, and that many are offended by the regular use of profanity and obscenity. Speaking with thoughtfulness and respect draws people to us because they know, even if it’s at the subconscious level, that we respect ourselves, and with self-respect comes the ability to respect others.
For better or for worse, we judge the value of an idea by how well it is presented. The slicker the speaker, the smoother the presentation, then the more likely we are to accept what was said. The eye catching glossy brochure is more likely to sell us a product than a less well-prepared presentation. The words that come out of our mouths reflect the attitudes on the inside and we must guard against falling into the bad habit of sloppy speech. Most of us have misjudged another’s intelligence because that individual didn’t speak well, had a limited vocabulary, poor grammar, or a regional accent. By the same measure, we will be judged by those around us based on the words we use. In the letter from St. James (3.3-5, NIV) he describes an important corollary to this commandment:
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.
This commandment is more than just not taking the Lord’s name in vain. By not using profanity or obscenity in our daily speech, and by keeping an attitude of respect for God, yourself, and those around you, you will automatically help create a more pleasant and productive working environment. This attitude of respect will also help you to act in an honest and professional manner when making business decisions.