Weekly Bulletin Articles
When we think of admirable qualities that we esteem highly in others or that we would like to see developed in ourselves, what are some that come to mind? Do we appreciate honesty, integrity, dependability, attention to detail, hard work, consistency, impartiality? Do we consider faith, kindness, meekness, temperance, joy, steadfastness, and a loving spirit to be traits that we hold in high regard?
When Peter, by inspiration, encouraged the first-century saints to build upon the foundation of faith, he instructed them to add to their faith virtue (2 Pet.1:5). Virtue is translated from a word that, at its root, indicates manliness. There is involved a sense of courage and strength. You might remember the words of encouragement that Jehovah spoke to the newly-appointed leader of His people, Joshua: “Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them” (Josh.1:6). As David lay dying, he gave instructions to his son, Solomon, who would take his father’s place upon the throne: “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man” (1 Kings 2:2). In his closing words to the brethren at Corinth, Paul would say, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Cor.16:13). The strength referenced in these passages has nothing to do with physical strength. The admonitions are given to be strong in regard to spiritual matters. This spiritual strength coupled with the courage to act upon what is right is what constitutes virtue. Some refer to this as “moral courage.” Others indicate that it involves vigorous activity or energy. I will submit that it is a combination of the two—the courage to do what is right and the willingness to exercise the spiritual strength necessary to act upon what is right. It is a mindset that is joined with action, much like the faith upon which virtue is to be built!
The command to exhibit and exercise virtue in our lives seems very much out of place in our day, given the current moral and religious climate. After all, in a time when so many are focused on eradicating “gender inequality,” it seems very inappropriate to tell anyone to grow up and act manly. When society is seeking to do all it can to blur the lines of distinction between men and women, some are left to wonder just what being manly really involves. It has become more acceptable in our current culture for men to act like women and for women to act like men. No wonder, then, that virtue is not so virtuous anymore. Now, we are told, that those who “come out” in regard to their sexual orientation are courageous, and should be lauded as heroes. Sadly, our society has embraced immoral “courage” as something virtuous and praise-worthy. This flies in the face of what Peter instructs us to do as Christians. True virtue does not celebrate vice. Moral courage demands that we stand up for what is right, even when everyone else around us is unwilling to do so. This does not grant someone the right to be ugly or mean-spirited. It does, however, mean that we cannot give up the truth! Virtue refuses to be backed into a corner, to be silent when truth is being attacked. A foundation of Biblical faith demands that we act upon what has been revealed to us in God’s word (Rom.10:17). Fear stands in opposition to virtue, and we know where fear will lead us (Rev.21:8). Let us never be afraid to do what is right!