I have been thinking about Peter's statement, "add to your
faith virtue" (2 Pet. 1:5). And I am impressed by our weighty
responsibility to live a virtuous life.
Virtue, in respect to human behavior, is moral excellence (cf.
NASB). A Christian's behavior must be of the highest moral and ethical
standard. And that standard has been set by God.
Christians are virtuous because they love God. John said: "Do
not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the
world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in
the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the
pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world. And the
world is passing away, and the lusts of it; but he who does the
will of God abides forever" (1 Jn. 2:15-17).
We learn from John that a virtuous life is void of three things.
These are the sensual, evil acts which are "pleasing"
to our flesh. These are the cares of this world, the deceitful riches,
and the desires for other things which choke the word of God (cf.
Paul teaches us about the struggle between our flesh and the Spirit.
About the works of the flesh he said: "Now the works of the
flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness,
licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies,
outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy,
murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like (Gal. 5:19- 21).
Now there are some works of the flesh that most people would not
entertain (e.g., murder), but there are others that the world considers
to be fairly harmless (e.g., licentiousness, wrath, envy, drunkenness,
revelries). But Christians, must live up to God's standard of morality
which avoids all the works of the flesh.
These are the evil things that people look upon with their eyes
(the physical organ) and think upon with their mind's eye.
Not only is it important to control our bodies to live virtuously,
but we must control our minds to think virtuous thoughts. Jesus
taught that evil thoughts give way to evil acts (Mk. 7:21-23). The
fact is, we are what we think. If we think about evil things, we
will eventfully give in to those thoughts. Therefore, many aspects
of our popular culture which stimulate the senses through sensual
desires (e.g., soft and hard pornography, TV shows, movies, books,
magazines, carnal parties, sensual dances, and licentious clothing)
are evil since they entice those who look upon them to ponder evil
The pride of life is glorying in the flesh. The pride of life trusts
in the flesh and not in God. A person who is proud of the things
in this life loves the world; and the love of the Father is not
in him (1 Jn. 2:15). A person who is proud of the things in this
life glories in the lusts of the flesh and the lusts of the eyes.
Finally, let me suggest that a virtuous life glorifies God. In
light of the fact that we have been bought with the precious blood
of Jesus Christ, Paul said: "therefore glorify God in your
body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:20).
Let's ask ourselves: Am I living a virtuous life according to God's
standard? Am I glorifying God in everything that I do and say?