WFT- utile

20 August 2011

Continuing in the "wayyy back" theme from the last Word for Thought, I reached into the Merriam-Webster email archives from September 25, 2009.  Yes, yes, I know.  I need to stay a bit more up to date. :)

The M-W Word of the day was utile and it was defined as


They also provided details regarding the origin of the word:

For over a hundred years before "useful" entered our language, "utile" served us well on its own. We borrowed "utile" from Middle French in the 15th century. The French derived it from Latin "utilis," meaning "useful," which in turn comes from "uti," meaning "to use." "Uti" (the past participle of which is "usus") is also the source of our "use" and "useful." We've been using "use" since at least the 13th century, but we didn't acquire "useful" until the late 16th century, when William Shakespeare inserted it into King John. Needless to say, we've come to prefer "useful" over "utile" since then, though "utile" functions as a very usable synonym. Other handy terms derived from "uti" include "utilize," "usury," "abuse" and "utensil."

There are a handful of verses in the NASB that contain the word useful.  One of them in particular comes to mind:

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.   Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.  But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. (2 Timothy 2:21-23)

"...useful to the Master, prepared for every good work..."  That sounds familiar:

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;  so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

Paul tells Timothy that the "sacred writings" that he had known "from childhood" (i.e. the Tanakh) are able to give him the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith.

He goes on to say that all Scripture is something beyond utile: it is profitable.  It is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.

Passages like these come to mind:

'For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth. For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.' (Leviticus 11:44-45)

Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, 'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy." (Leviticus 19:2)

'You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. You shall keep My statutes and practice them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you. (Leviticus 20:7-8)

'Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine. (Leviticus 20:26)

What do we find in these chapters of Scripture where G-d says "do this and be holy for I the LORD your G-d am holy"?

Leviticus 11- laws regarding what is and what is not suitable for food.

Leviticus 19- practical laws for daily living.

Leviticus 20- laws regarding what is and what is not suitable in sexual relationships.

We do not have a G-d who is remote or distant (Deuteronomy 4:7).  We do not have a G-d who requires some arcane religious rites (Psalm 19:7).  We do not have a G-d who asks us to do what is impossible (Deuteronomy 30:11-14).

G-d takes the everyday, mundane activities of life and elevates them to matters of holiness and G-dliness in order that we may be holy as He is holy.  And we know that we are able to obey these commandments because we can do all things through the Messiah Yeshua who strengthens us.  (Philippians 4:13)


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