“Virtue is to the soul, what health is to the body,” wrote the French Essayist François de La Rochefoucauld.
Using that analogy it’s not an exaggeration to say that a spiritual pandemic pervades our society today. To deny it is to ignore the violence, lawlessness, immorality, perversion, and wickedness in the world around us. Hitting closer to home, maybe even the vice within our own minds and hearts.
This year in connection with our theme “Let’s Renew in ‘22,” we’re using our word of the week to encourage renewal and revival of spiritual qualities that may be ignored in our culture and even neglected by Christians.
Virtue is the Greek word arte, used only 5 times in 4 Bible verses. But it’s a rich and far-reaching word that’s pregnant with meaning and application.
Peter says we are a people called out of a sinful world to “glory and virtue” that we may “proclaim the excellencies” of Him who called us. (I Pet. 2:9; 2 Pet. 1:3). Virtue is one of the Christian grace to which we ought to add to our faith (2 Pet. 1:3). And virtuous ideals ought to premonition our thoughts (Phil. 1:8).
Thayer defines virtue as “any excellence of a person (in body or mind) or of a thing, an eminent endowment, property or quality (1) a virtuous course of thought, feeling and action; virtue, moral goodness (2) any particular moral excellence, as modesty, purity”
A. T. Robertson says arte is “moral power, moral energy, vigor of soul. The UBS New Testament comments that ” Virtue can be understood in a general sense, referring to moral excellence, or in a more restricted sense, referring to moral courage or strength.”
Various English versions of the Bible render arte as “goodness,” “moral excellence,” “integrity,” or “moral character.”
Warren Wiersbe writes, “To the Greek philosophers it meant “the fulfillment of a thing. When anything in nature fulfills its purpose, that is virtue–moral excellence. The word was used to describe the power of the gods to do heroic deeds. The land that produces crops is excellent because it is fulfilling its purpose. The tool that works correctly is excellent because it is doing what a tool is supposed to do.”
“A Christian is supposed to glorify God because he has God’s nature within; so when he does this, he shows excellence because he is fulfilling his purpose in life. True virtue in the Christian life is not polishing human qualities, no matter how fine they may be, but producing divine qualities that make the person more like Jesus.
In his book Enthusiastic Ideas, Gary Henry reminds us that “virtues are unalterable. They are not changed by the shifting winds of social evolution or popular taste…they are eternal.” And they are eternal because they’re rooted in the divine character of God and revealed as Truth for all ages by His inspired Word.
Virtue is not just something on display in the midst of a crisis or when duty demands it, but it is a daily practice of those values we embrace. “The virtue of a man,” opined Blaise Pascal, “ought to be measured, not by his extraordinary exertions, but by his everyday conduct.”
Virtue is a man daring to be a man. A leader of his home. A faithful husband to his wife. A loving father to his children.
Virtue is a wife embracing her feminine role. Loving and honoring her husband. Teaching and nurturing her children.
Virtue is the son or daughter who honors their parents, seeks God in their youth, and flees from youthful lusts.
Virtue is the pastor who Shepherds with care, compassion, and consecration.
Virtue is the preacher who teaches, instructs, and shares the Word with humility, sincerity and kindness.
Virtue resists profanity, promiscuity, and pugnaciousness.
Virtue embraces purity, sobriety, and honesty.
Virtue shuns coarse humor, foolish talk, and filthy entertainment.
Virtue quietly ministers to the weak, encourages the timid, comforts the broken-hearted, and warns the unruly.
Virtues reflects upon truth, honor, justice, holiness, loveliness and goodness.
Virtue protects the mind, guards the heart, and nourishes the soul.
Virtue is greater than just a word of the week to contemplate. It is a Christian quality that requires a lifetime of devotion, focus and development.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman