It is impossible to avoid hearing it. Watch TV or listen to the radio long enough, and someone will say it. From “Oh My God!” to “Oh God!” to simply “God!” These are not holy supplications but expressions of shock, excitement, frustration, and even anger. It is a reactionary statement said without thought and is so common in our culture that it has been abbreviated for texting purposes, “OMG.” It’s everywhere, but should it be in the vocabulary of Christians?
Would you be surprised to know that this statement is biblical? It was often on the lips of God’s faithful. Three times Nehemiah cried out, “Remember me, O my God” (Nehemiah 13:14, 22, 31), and once, on behalf of his people, he said, “Remember them, O my God” (Nehemiah 13:29). OMG is also found frequently in the Book of Psalms. Twelve times the Psalmists sing, “O my God” (Psalm 3:7, 22:2, 25:2, 38:21, 40:8,17, 42:6, 59:1, 71:4,12,22; 83:13). Even Jesus on the cross cried out, “‘My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?'” (Matthew 27:46). Such verses indicate that “OMG” was never used the way it is today. In the Bible, it was never an expression of surprise or slang. It is just the opposite! Those in Scripture utter these words with the utmost respect and reverence. In the Bible, it is an expression of prayer, pleading, and a personal relationship with God.
God instructed Israel, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Exodus 20:7). In this commandment, God did not prohibit the use of His name but rather the misuse of it. He is holy and desires His people to hold Him in reverence. He still does! So one must ask, do expressions (such as, “Oh My God!” or “Jesus Christ!”) show respect? Or do they reveal a heart that fails to make such a distinction?
Jesus taught that words matter, for they reveal the heart. “‘A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give an account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.'” (Matthew 12:35-36).
The sound advice of James 1:9 is much needed today. “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” In other words, “Think before you speak.” Neither surprise nor anger is an adequate excuse for taking God’s name in vain. So, the next time you use the Lord’s name, let it be in prayer or praise.
“O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed” (Psalm 25:2)