Read: Exodus 20:1-17
You have probably never thought of the 10 commandments in terms of virtue habituation, so here is something new.
The word ‘commandments’ might make us think of orders, rules and laws that are given and that need to be externally obeyed. But this is not the full picture.
Exodus 20, indicates that God ‘spoke’ a set of words and the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) uses the term δεκάλογος, (dekalogos), which means “ten words”. So, beyond mere rules, and to how do these words have a shaping effect as tools of virtue?
First of all, think about them as ‘tools’ that are similar to those that you saw in Week 9 – A plan for virtue.
But most of all there is habituation. These 10 words were to become a daily routine in the life of the people of Israel. We see that, to help the formation of habits for some of these words, God tells Israel to establish yearly festivals and regular sacrifices. These create habits of worship (‘you will worship no other God than me’) and of rest (‘you shall observe the Sabbath’).
In Deuteronomy 6 we have further instructions concerning the habituation of these words:
So this is not just a list of rules. God sets up a genuine educational programme to shape the character of his people.
And this character is one of virtue. Can you identify the other virtues that are associated with each of the ten words in Deuteronomy 20:1-17?
Can you identify the other virtues that are associated with each of the ten words in Deuteronomy 20:1-17?
A prayer: To God who has spoken these 10 words I wish to express my gratitude. Thank you for these guidelines that are here to shape us into your people and flourishing human beings. May they become habits in my life, together with the people with whom I am called to walk. And may they shape my character in virtue.