By: Staci Stallings
Okay. This one is really cool!
It’s funny to me how God ordered this lesson because it actually started about 16 years ago. Remember, God always thinks LONG RANGE. It’s lessons like this that prove that to me.
This lesson started when I was teaching English to high schoolers. At the school I taught, they required 4 years of Latin roots to be taught as spelling. So each week we would have a list of root words and their meanings and then a list of words that were derived from those root words. Teaching three different levels of high school, I got really good at Latin and Greek root words.
Still, most of the time I don’t really think about them. I blithely read, understanding what words generally mean, never taking into consideration their deeper meanings and how different they make everything look.
Take this very basic “God” word: commandment.
I’m sure you know several ways this word is used in relation to God. God’s commandments, the commandments of the Lord, the Ten Commandments. You’ve probably seen it a few hundred times or more. But do you know what it means? What it really means?
The other day in my study of understanding where I got off-track with the whole God thing, I stumbled upon the word commandments, and instead of assuming that I knew what it meant, I heard a whisper from the Holy Spirit to take the word apart and get the deeper meaning.
So I did.
“Co” or “Com.” Well, that was easy. That means “together.” Like cooperate, compassionate, concentric.
But wait. What?
Co or Com means “together”? Together with what or whom? What do we have to be together about in the commandments.
Then another root word dropped into my mind: de.
Well, that one was easy too. “De” –cut off from, separate from, given from a station above.
That’s when I got a glimpse that there was much more to this story than I had ever seen.
“Demand” is very different than “command.” In fact, I’ve said this to people in the past that being a demanding teacher is way different than being a commanding teacher. I’ve said that demanding respect is way different than commanding respect. I knew they were different but how, and why, and what significance did that make in looking at the Commandments?
The snatch of insight turned quickly to full blown light when I looked up the root word “mand.” “Mand” means an order. You can have a mandate (an order to do something). You can remand someone, or order them back. You can also command or demand.
Light flooded everything then!
God did not give us a list of “Demandments.” However, that’s how I thought of them for most of my life. I thought they were handed down as orders from Someone higher than me and I’d better find a way to live up to them… or else. That’s the way a “de” mand works. It “degrades” you. It makes you necessarily feel less than and burdened because it puts you in a category LOWER than the person giving it.
But that’s not what God gave us.
Instead, He gave us a list of “Commandments.”
Now, let’s, for a moment, change tracks to more fully grasp this. Let’s say you are on the battlefield, and your “Commander” gives you a demand that you go fight. Will you? Yes, probably because you have no choice, the order was given to you from someone higher in rank than you. But let’s say that your commander gives you a command to go and fight. That FEELS different. Doesn’t it? Even if you are still afraid, you know this is different than a “demand.” Why?
Because a COMmand necessarily means that the commander is coming with you! You aren’t sent out on your own into battle. The fact that he gave you a command and not a demand means you are not alone in the battle!
Man! I don’t know about you, but to me, that is Good News!