• Episodes
  • Giving the Third Commandment to Our Children

Giving the Third Commandment to Our Children

Share this:
Share on Facebook

Episode Synopsis

Join Jani and Heidi as they discuss how to leave a legacy of hallowing God’s name for those who look up to you. How can the children in your life learn to reverence God’s name in their minds and mouths?

Audio Transcript

Jani: Welcome, we’re glad to be with you today. We’ve been talking about the 10 Commandments and we’re talking about the third commandment again today. In our last episode we talked about why this commandment is even in the Bible and why is it so special? You might remember the commandment is, “You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God in vain.” Today, Heidi and I wanted to discuss how we can teach this commandment to our kids. It can kind of be tricky, so we want to give you some ideas that we’ve tried, some questions we’ve worked through because we want to be women who understand the purpose of God’s law and we want to be able to experience the love he shows us in these commandments. We don’t want to think of them as just a list of 10 rules to keep to get on his good side. We want to leave a lasting legacy behind us that points others to our loving, heavenly father. How can we give this loving command to the next generation? How do we live in such a way that we will not take his name in vain before watching eyes and listening ears?

Heidi: Jani, I actually have a question for you before we go into the rest of this. As we have taught our children this third commandment, I see it in their hearts and in their minds, but one situation that I’ve found ourselves in a couple of times is when, say, we’re at a restaurant and my kids are playing in Chick-fil-A with other kids in the play place, and another little kid, will use the name of the Lord in an inappropriate way and my kids will come running to me and they’ll say, “Oh mommy, that little boy just said the name Lord in vain, what do we do? What should we say?” I often don’t know how to respond to them. Did you experience that with your kids? What do you say to them in those situations?

Jani: Yeah. That’s a good question, Heidi. I think we hear it more often in your children’s cultural setting than in mine. You’re my child’s age or a little bit younger than my children so you probably didn’t hear it.

Heidi: Yeah, I don’t remember hearing it that much growing up.

Jani: So this is a good question for moms with younger children. My response even with my grandchildren is more one of calmness. I want to respond to them as I believe the Lord responds to us in our sins. It’s not shock or pointing my finger at them. It’s not trying to shame the person who broke this commandment. I would approach it in two ways: I would tell my child, I’d just be calm with them and say, “I’m so grateful that you recognized that this is breaking one of God’s Holy commandments. Thanks for coming and talking to me about it.” After thanking your child, you could tell them again, “Let’s not comment or point our finger at that other child because God doesn’t do that to me when I’m in a sinful place. He welcomes me as soon as I turned to him. That child doesn’t know to turn to Jesus. That child doesn’t know yet. Why don’t we stop right now and just ask God to open that child’s heart to God’s name and to learn to use God’s name in reverence and awe as you’re learning to do.”

Heidi: Oh, Jani, I love that. Thank you for taking the time to answer that. It’s really helpful.

Jani: Well, we want to model God’s forgiveness of us as we teach our kids how to forgive others, and we don’t want to raise a generation of self-righteous finger pointers. We want to raise children who understand who God is, who longeto obey him, but also can deal with the fact that it’s impossible for them, they can’t and they need a Savior. I think it might be helpful for us as we talk about the third commandment. If we think about the opposite of taking God’s name lightly, treating it as we discussed in our last podcast as if it were worthless. What is the opposite of that? Well, let’s think about Jesus, what he’s taught us. He taught us the positive side of the third commandment when he taught us how to pray. The positive side of the third command is found in the very first phrase of the Lord’s prayer, “…hallowed be your name.” You see, when we hallow God’s name, we treat it as it it’s holy because it is. It’s separate and above every other name in the universe. We hold his name in reverence when we are hallowing His name. When we pray “hallowed be your name, we’re asking God to help us treat it as sacred, to recognize God’s name for all that it is.” You see, if I call myself a Christian, I have the name of the God of the universe upon myself and it’s a costly name. God sacrificed his own son to adopt us into his family and give us his name. Does your life, does my life, bear a family resemblance to the name I bear? Let’s be women who hallow his name in our lives by living like we’re really his. I sometimes wonder, Heidi, if anyone can tell I’m a Christian before I ever even open up my mouth. In the midst of a cultural ideal that marginalizes and trivializes God, trying to make him look small, let’s honor God for his greatness. This commandment, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” encourages us to live as though God were everything he reveals himself to be. It encourages us to treat God as everything that, in fact, he truly is. If you want more of the living God than you’ve ever had before, dear listener, the third commandment is assuring you that that’s what God wants too. God is saying to us, his children, “All that I am, I want to put on you as you bear my name.” Oh, I love that. Thank you Lord. And what is our response to be? Well, we can come to God and tell them, “Father, your name is Holy. Now help me to live like it is. Teach me how to honor your name more fully in both my words and my deeds. Let me live a life of Holy reverence because I bear the name of Jesus Christ.”

Heidi: Jani, one of the ways that the Lord has convicted me about burying his name over the past couple of years as I’ve studied this commandment more, I’ll find when I’m in conversation with other Christians, that I very easily talk about what the Lord is doing in my life and his active presence. When I receive a gift, I will say, “Oh, in the Lord blessed us with this…” I noted over the past couple of years that there’s a hesitancy in my spirit to speak that way when I’m around people that don’t know the Lord and I have felt like the Lord put on my heart, honor my name with people that don’t know me in the same way that you talk to my children. And that’s just helped me be more of mindful of him. This is something that he’s convicted me on and that I’m trying to do more to share his presence in my life, with all of those I’m interacting with and not just my Christian brothers and sisters.

Jani: That’s so good, Heidi. I really agree with that and I find myself doing the same thing. I taught in public schools for 12 years and I did not use his name. I didn’t want to use it lightly. I didn’t want to bandy it about, but I had to learn how to honor it because I was a Christian. They knew I was a Christian and so they expected me to speak of God, in a sense. I did not want to treat God as if he were nothing to me.

Heidi: Yes as we wrestle with, “What does it mean to honor God’s name?”

Jani: Well, I think it is a wrestling situation. Each one of us needs to figure out how to obey this commandment, how we can please the Lord. Again, Ephesians 5:10, “…try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” How can we please you by obeying this commandment Lord? I just want to encourage us all. I need to talk to myself in this way that I mustn’t lose heart as I seek to understand and obey this commandment. Sometimes I just struggle to honor God’s name the way I should, to not take it in vain. But someday, Heidi, we will have God’s name on ourselves perfectly. We will worship God as real and weighty and glorious and valuable and near. Never again will God be blasphemed or ignored or forgotten or belittled. I love how Psalm 86:9 puts it, “All the nations that you have made shall come and worship before you, Oh Lord, and shall glorify your name.”

Heidi: Oh, and I love Philippians 2:10-11, this is one of my favorite verses: “…so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Jani: “…at the name of Jesus every knee…” Oh, I love it. How about Zechariah 14:9? I like how it says And the Lord will be King over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.” Oh, I love it. So let’s not lose heart, Heidi and dear listener, don’t you lose heart either. Let’s keep seeking to obey this third commandment and bear his name with the weight that it deserves. Now, we’ve already begun speaking about how we can teach this commandment to our children. Let’s come back to that. Some of you, I know, are trying to use this during the week for your family devotions or your devotions as a mom with your kids, maybe a grandmother with her grandchildren. You don’t have to do this all at once. Remember, we’re encouraging short times, maybe at the end of breakfast or over a snack after school or maybe during dessert time after dinner. Make it easy for your children to listen and participate, but get that big red heart out again that has the mirror in the middle and remember to review Psalm 119:18 as a prayer. “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” You can even pray that over your children. Review the first two commandments and then read Exodus 20:7. Try memorizing these commandments with your children. That could take two to three days in itself. There are different ways that you can memorize scripture. Heidi, do you ever work on scripture memory with your kids?

Heidi: We do. We’ll often just repeat the verses back and forth to one another, so I’ll say it a few times and then I’ll say a portion of it and they’ll say the portion of it and then by the end we’ll have them try to say the whole thing together.

Jani: Perfect. That’s great. I know your two younger children aren’t writing and reading a lot yet. Hannah is very proficient in that she could do it for all three of the kids, but sometimes we’ll do phrase by phrase with our grand-kids, just a phrase and they say the phrase back as you’ve been doing with your kids. Other times we’ll go around the table and I’ll say one phrase and then the child will say another and we’ll go around that way, or even with words, although that’s more difficult. Sometimes we’ve put one word on an index card, mixed them all up on the table and had a visual of the verse up on the wall.Then each child draws an index card and tapes it over the word up there and we try to learn it that way or have the whole verse up there and cover a word each time. Try to work it into your own family. But Oh, help your kids to hide God’s word in their hearts! Help them to memorize it. It will stay with them all their lives.

Heidi: And I would mention another way we memorize a lot of scripture together Jani is through song. There are some amazing artists out there that put God’s word to song. And so if you guys are wanting to listen to God’s word with your family, I highly recommend typing in “Seeds Family Eorship.” They’ve put so many scriptural verses to song. Mike and I even find it comforting to ourselves. We’ll go throughout our day and sing “…cast your cares upon the Lord. He will sustain you.” It’s so helpful.

Jani: Yes, and our own church, Emmanuel has put Romans 8…

Heidi: …I can’t recommend the Romans 8 CD by Emmanuel Nashville more highly. It’s so good.

Jani: That’s such a good point though, Heidi. I wonder if Seeds has a 10 commandments album?

Heidi: We’ll have to look that up!

Jani: Let’s do that before our next episode. Well, as you’re thinking about this third commandment with your child, talk about family names. Talk about your name, your child’s name, your parent’s name, your surname. What does it mean? How are these names significant? You might not think of this as a Bible lesson, but it’s important for children. It is part of the third commandment. Spend some time talking with your child about what it means to be part of a family. Those who bear the same name need to stick up for each other. Teach your child how his actions reflect on the family name. You could work this coming week on building more of a family brotherhood. This will influence how family members treat each other, support each other and talk about each other. I used to say to our kids, “We’re Ortlunds. Ortlunds don’t say, ‘Oh my God’, unless we’re praying to him. Ortlunds stick up for each other. Ortlunds tell the truth.”

Heidi: I love that Jani, we’ve done that with our own kids. We love to say, “We’re the Howerton family, the Howertons don’t tell lies or the Howertons love others and they take care of them.” I think it gives our children, I pray it gives our children, a cohesive feel, like we’re part of a little family unit and this is what our family unit is made of and who we are and who we love and how we act.

Jani: One of the things I love about your family is that phrase you use when an accident happens.

Heidi: “No big deal!” I need that phrase sometimes myself.

Jani: Well, it seems to me I needed it last week when I came in and spilled my tea everywhere and I thought, “Oh no, what a way to start a podcast” and you said “No big deal!”

Heidi: Yes, and now my latest one as we’ve talked about a few weeks ago is, “We don’t hurry, there’s no need to rush.” We also have a little family song that my kids love and that’s been so helpful to me. Sometimes we’re stressed and we’re trying to get things done and people are short tempered. One little voice will pipe up in the family and go, “I’m doing the best that I can, so be patient with me and soon you will see that I’m doing the best that I can.” And that’s so helpful because it deescalates the situation and is a reminder like, “Oh we are cleaning and we’re trying to get it ready before Jani comes to the house.” The child is doing the best that they can or when all my kids are asking me something, I’ll sing that song to them because it reminds them that momis doing the best that she can. I love just having little family things that ground us together.

Jani: That’s wonderful. I love it, Heidi. Thanks.

Heidi: We’ll have to start singing it on the podcast!

Jani: These things are so helpful Heidi. We want to share what’s working and what’s not working. That’s part of what a podcast is for, so thank you for that. Along with your family name and trying to build a family unit through establishing your own principles of you want your family to stand for, talk about how a name can be misused or how a name can be teased. How does that make another person feel? Talk with your child about what they could do to defend another person’s name. I think it’s really important for us as adults and and mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and Sunday school teachers to model for the children in our life that other people’s names are safe in our home. Don’t let your children hear gossip and slander travel around your kitchen table or through your phones or between your husband and you. Talk about gossip with your children. What does it mean? What is slander? Talk about it with your children and talk about why Christians don’t do that. It’s because we bear God’s name on us. I wonder if your kids have heard God’s name taken in vain on TV or in books or in movies or from other kids? We’ve talked about that a little bit at the beginning of this podcast. Talk about with your kids what it means to take God’s name in vain and how to honor his name. While you’re talking about these things during the week with your children, make sure to review the words of the third commandment. Make sure they’re written on the big red heart by a Roman numeral three and have your kids read it over. Keep memorizing. Keep putting it deep into their heart. Another verse you can look at along with Exodus 20:7 is Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Whatever you do, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus in both word and deed, so you can talk about that with your kids and model it. You can say as you’re walking along, this happened recently to me while were outside our grocery store and someone had thrown down their bag full of McDonald’s garbage. I stopped and picked it up and told the little one with me because we were Christians, I’m going to pick up that piece of litter on the street and throw it away. I’m a Christian. I bear the name of Christ. I care about others. Or because I belong to the God who calls himself our protector, I’m going to protect that little child whom others are making fun of rather than join in with the teasing you see, we want to show others that we belong to God. We bear his name. We don’t want to bear it in vain. You could say to your children, “Because God calls himself the God of peace and I am in his family and am his daughter, I’m going to try to bring peace to the situation rather than anger.”

Heidi: That’s helpful. Jani. I feel like I often give my kids instructions like, “Stand up for others or be kind or we’re going to pick up this piece of trash,” but I forget to say “Because we’re God’s children, we want to honor him and this is why we do this.” It’s good to hear that.

Jani: Well throughout this week, look for ways your family can hallow God’s name in their actions and words. Try to record a few of them on an index card and tape the card next to the third commandment you’ve written on your big red heart. Let me close our podcast today by encouraging you through a passage from one of my favorite books. It’s “Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia” by C.S. Lewis. It’s part of the Chronicles of Narnia and this is in chapter ten. One of the ways to tell if your child is growing in Christ is if his delight in Jesus is expanding. If it is, God will keep getting bigger to him. Now, C.S. Lewis captures this idea perfectly in “Prince Caspian” in chapter 10. I’ll read just a bit and we’ll close with this. Lucy, you may know is one of the four children and she is the hero in this book and all the children are sleeping. Lucy wakes up suddenly and she hears someone calling her name. She gets up, and this is what Lewis says,

A circle of grass, smooth as a lawn, met her eyes, with dark trees dancing all round it. And then – oh joy! For he was there: the huge Lion, shining white in the moonlight, with his huge black shadow underneath him.

But for the movement of his tail he might have been a stone lion, but Lucy never thought of that. She never stopped to think whether he was a friendly lion or not. She rushed to him. She felt her heart would burst if she lost a moment. And the next thing she knew was that she was kissing him and putting her arms as far round his neck as she could and burying her face in the beautiful rich silkiness of his mane.

“Aslan, Aslan. Dear Aslan,” sobbed Lucy. “At last.”

The great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws. He bent forward and just touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath came all round her. She gazed up into the large wise face.

“Welcome, child,” he said.

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”

“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.

“Not because you are?”

“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

From Chapter 10 of Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia by C.S. Leiws

Isn’t that true? Every year your child grows in Christ, he or she will find Christ bigger and that’s why we want to teach them. We want them to learn to love Jesus more, delight in him more, honor his name, bear it with all the dignity and reverence it deserves, and then as they do that, Christ will become more real to them. May he restore your soul as you work through this commandment with your children and with your heavenly father. God bless you.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

Join the Conversation


Also available on

About The Podcast

He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

You're invited

Never miss an episode by subscribing to our podcast updates by email. 

Ask Jani

Do you have a question for Jani? We want to hear it! It’s the next best thing to having tea together in person.

Featured Resource

Ministry is Hard.

And every ministry wife needs—
and deserves—encouragement.

Subscribe today

You're Invited!

The table is set.

Never miss an episode by subscribing to our podcast updates by email. 


Ask Jani

We’d love to hear your questions and we read (or listen to) every one! There’s a very high chance you may hear us talk about it (anonymously!) on a future episode. Thank you for taking the time to share your heart with us! Everyone needs renewal.

Due an extremely high volume of spam, we are requesting that you personally email us your questions using the button below. Thank you so much!

Short on time? Leave us a “website voicemail” by clicking the button below!