Eight Virtues

Friday, May 5                                 

So what are these all important virtues?  The first one is faith, which Peter assumes as a starting point.  The Greek word for “faith” means to have firm conviction, trust to the point of personal commitment.  Faith is a key factor in salvation, where one entrusts his entire life to Christ.  It has taken on another meaning—the entire system of belief as in “the Christian faith.”  It is also used in specific situations where an outcome is contingent on belief.  This was a persistent problem for the disciples.  Jesus often rebuked them for their little faith.  Which of these meanings Peter had in mind is uncertain, but the three are so intertwined that it probably doesn’t matter.  It’s interesting that Peter says to add on—one by one—the other seven virtues.  This not only implies that faith is already established, but that an individual can, by his own choice, produce a divine trait.  The phrase “make every effort” suggests the same thing.  But that is contrary to the fact that these are gifts from God.    This could mean that we possess the gifts, but have a choice as to using them.  Most of the seven are fairly easily understood.  Goodness.  As explained in a previous blog, there is no goodness in unregenerate man; none of his good deeds are done to glorify God.  For Christians, we have divine enablement to do good, which we sometimes exercise and sometimes don’t.  Knowledge.  Knowledge is knowing the Word—not just the Scripture, but Christ, who is the Word.  He is always set before us as a role model—humility, for example, in Phil. 2.  Self-control.  This is fairly self explanatory.  Remnants of the sin nature still crop up, and most of us are quite aware when we are controlled by self.  Perseverance.  Sanctification is a process.  Verse 8: “If you possess these qualities in increasing measure . . .”  Lack of perseverance comes when we get discouraged when we fail, but we need to get up and keep going.  God understands and is quick to forgive and motivate us to persevere.  Godliness.  All these traits are godly traits.  As we progress in each one, we  develop a divine nature, a Christ-like pattern that permeates our life.  Brotherly kindness.   Kindness focuses on how these virtues affect others.  Relationship are enhanced; our Christ-like lives will have a positive effect on those around us.  Love.  This could be the virtue of all virtues as revealed in 1 Cor. 13.  It has two aspects—love for God and love for people.  A deep love for God inevitably results in loving our fellow man—whether or not he is lovely.  This list of godly traits may or may not be an exhaustive list, but it gives us a lot to work on.

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