We continued our study on the characteristics that Peter outlined in 2 Peter 1 which will help us be fruitful servants of God. Today’s lessons looked at the characteristic of virtue. I must admit, it was an very interesting lesson to put together. In some ways, there were things that I thought of as profound, but all in all, it still brings us back to our Savior.
We started off by looking at the words for Virtue in both the Greek and Hebrew. What is interesting is that those words are sometimes translated differently in different passages. While most versions use “virtue” for the Greek word “Arete”, the NASV uses ‘moral excellence” which is a good translation as well. In the OT a lot of words are used for the Hebrew word “Cahyil” among which are Army, wealth, valor, and strength.
As you look through the Bible I narrowed the concept of virtue to be found in four words: Excellence, Worthiness, Ability, Strength. I am not suggesting that only these words will do but it helps to see some concrete examples of virtue, starting with Jesus.
It makes sense we would see virtue in Christ and Revelation chapter 5 uses 3 of those 4 words and the 4th (Excellence) I see in the praising of His excellence by those who witness him take the scroll. But Why did Christ receive this honor and if, as I am suggesting, why is He virtuous?
He is virtuous because of His mindset described in Philippians 2. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves, further, while he was here, he depended on God. He knew where the boundaries were and didn’t cross them. Temptations did not attract him because he knew what God’s will was and was comitted to doing God’s will. Now, HE is able to do for US what God did for Him.
He is able to save us.
We then looked at two examples for virtue from Ruth and the worthy woman in Proverbs 31. Both of whom show a great deal of virtuous living. The thing is, neither were doing “Grand” things but simple ordinary things, just doing what they needed to do but they did it well.
So in trying to define virtue, I have previously used this as a definition:
1. Doing what is right, no matter what the cost to ourselves. This particular definition can be seen in Bible Characters such as Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, Daniel and the Lion’s den, Jesus, The Apostles with the Jewish leaders and everyone listed in Hebrews 11.
However, I must say that after this lesson, another definition emerged:
Doing what is asked of you, what is needed, what is necessary without bringing attention to yourself. It is done regardless of what others do, of any reward you might receive or recognition you might get. It is also not tied to what we do not have, but only what we do have, so everyone can be virtuous.
The key thing seems to be a willingness to do what is asked of you by the one who has the authority to ask it, whether it is God, Parents, or Bosses and then to humble yourself to do it. God is the one who will exalt you, even if no one ever appreciates you.
Hopefully each of us will strive to add the virtue that we see exemplified by Christ and others.