Monday, October 27, 2008
I often tell people that I have learned more about the gospel of Jesus Christ from a dictionary than any other source. They usually look at me like I’m crazy, but I’m not. (Don’t ask my family to verify that!) At any rate, let me show you what I mean. There are many words that we think we know and so we don’t ever look them up in a dictionary. For example let’s look at the word temple. My dictionary says that a temple is “a place set aside by a prophet for observation.” A second definition (my favorite) is “a place where one gets one’s bearings on the universe.” That expanded my feeling for what a temple is.
Elder John A. Widtsoe taught that “The endowment and the temple work as revealed by the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith fall clearly into four distinct parts: The preparatory ordinances; the giving of instruction by lectures and representations; covenants; and finally, tests of knowledge.” (“Temple Worship” The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 12[April 1921]:58.)
Let’s look at one of those words. Our word endowment means (1) To provide with property, income, or a source of income. (2) To equip or supply with a talent or quality. It is composed of the prefix en which means “to put into” and the root word dower which means “a natural gift; a dowry.” This definition is much more meaningful when we remember that throughout the scriptures the Lord is depicted at the bridegroom and the people of the church as the bride. Therefore, the endowment is the dowry given to the bride. It is a gift of power, priesthood power and those who are obedient to the covenants made in the temple will be empowered.
I hope I’ve got you curious. Next time you go to the temple, a church meeting, or study the scriptures remember just one word and then look it up and see how it enhances your understanding. A word doesn’t have to be sesquipedalian before you head for a dictionary! Words you’ve known for years can contain subtle nuances that have escaped your understanding. This means that looking up even the simplest of words can enlighten you. Try it!