The sign read, “Warning! Pet Peeves Ahead!” It wasn’t posted on a roadside, like an alert letting you know “bridge out ahead” or “road closed.” It appeared online.
However, it reminded me that most everyone has those little irritating annoyances other people commit that get under one’s skin, don’t we? We try to ignore them, but they get to us anyway.
They’re like interrupters who won’t let you finish your sentence. Or loud public phone conversations. Or having a conversation in which the other person’s phone dings and they stop and read the new text word-for-word, obviously no longer listening to you. Or people who treat yield signs like stop signs. Or people throwing trash out their car windows.
Have you ever wondered if God has pet peeves?
Like, maybe, believers who say they desire spiritual growth, yet do not read His Word? Or who claim to trust God but whose lives are filled with constant worry? Or who do not spend time with God in prayer? What about people who skip church Sunday after Sunday? Does that perturb God?
Actually, these examples are more than pet peeves and minor annoyances to God. They are heartbreakers because they indicate disobedience, and our disobedience grieves God.
What about believers who fail to live in the fear of God?
What does it mean to live in the fear of God? Ray Prichard wrote, “It’s the choice I make to obey God because I want to love Him and please Him. The fear of the Lord is the ongoing attitude of my heart that causes me … to obey Him even when it might be easier to do something else.” (Accessed June 19, 2019).
The person who fears God possesses a sense of awe and respect for the majesty, holiness, and greatness of God. Fear is loving respect combined with respectful love for God. Our disobedience shows God we don’t love, respect, or honor Him.
Has our culture lost a sense of respect and honor? Have we? Jerry Bridges wrote, “There was a time when committed Christians were known as God-fearing people … but somewhere along the way, we lost it. Now the idea of fearing God, if thought of at all, seems like a relic from the past” (Bridges, “The Joy of Fearing God” p. 1).
For example, when we think about the commandment, “You shall not take the name of the Lord God in vain …” (Exodus 20:7), usually we think of the expletive, “God _____!” God does direct us to refrain from cursing, but this commandment also means we should not take His name lightly or dishonor His name. Do we break this commandment by misusing the name of God?
How do we do this? When we use God’s name as an exclamation when shocked or angry. Have you ever heard someone say, “Oh, my God!”? Or texted OMG? When I hear this, I cringe, like when someone runs fingernails down the chalkboard. This expression is so common in media and personal speech we’re insensitive to it.
Or, we say, “God, I wish it would rain.” We’re not praying. We’re using God’s name for emphasis to make a point or express a desire. That’s disrespectful.
Or, we say in exasperation, “I swear to God!” Is this expression acceptable to God? Is it necessary?
Why do we tolerate this bad habit? Apparently, we’ve lost our sense of awe for almighty God. We’ve become too flippant in our relationship with God or we’ve lowered our view of God.
How do we stop it? With God’s strength and a commitment to fulfill Ephesians 4:29 (“Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs”), we can overcome these showings of disrespect. Ask God to help you recapture a healthy fear of God because you love Him and want to please Him in all you do, including your speech. Make the deliberate decision to delete these expressions.
It may sound corny, but what’s wrong with just saying “Oh my goodness”?