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Adding Virtue to Your Faith

September 14, 2009

boy scouts- rockwellThe Boy Scouta motto is, “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.” The scout law states, “A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.” The history and reputation of the Boy Scouts has consistently been one of goodness and virtue. As their motto and law indicate, the goal is to teach young boys how to be good and respectable citizens. These are highly laudable goals, ones that are worthy of our own imitation. In fact, these goals are so praiseworthy, we find the general concept commanded to believers in 2 Peter 1:5, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue, knowledge.” Virtue morally excellent conduct. Moral excellence is not “Truth, Justice and the American Way.” Moral excellence is a habit of life that is pleasing to God in its actions and restrictions. The Christian that is living a morally excellent life is one who is striving to do those things which God has commanded and who refuses to do those things God has prohibited. This moral excellence is found in obedience to the Word of God.

Two verses help us better understand the nature of virtue, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) “This is a faithful saying and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, they they which believe in God might be able to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.” (Titus 3:8) These verses indicate the virtue we are to be adding is more than just not doing bad things and doing certain religious activities. Yes, the saved life should be characterized by an absence of evil deeds. The Christian must not be engaged in sinful activity. However, it is not enough not to sin. Virtue is not found merely in adhereing to a list of dont’s. We have to be actively doing good deeds. This mean church attendance, this means faithfully giving of your money to the needs of the church. This means practicing the regular activities of growth and work for the Lord that are vital to our walk with God. Many Christians today are struggling because they have not taken the work and trouble to grow. James 2 lays this responsibility out very plainly for us. If you have faith, you have works. If you do not add to your faith works then James says that your faith is dead. What does this look like? It means you need to be looking for opportunities to serve. You need to look for needs around you. You need to watch people looking for chances to help them. If you haven’t done it, I would encourage you to go to your pastor and ask, “What can we do to serve in the church?” You need to look for people who need ministering to. The addition of virtue to your faith is something that takes time and work. It is not comfortable. It may mean that you are teaching a group of kids, and you don’t really like teaching kids. It may mean you fix a meal for someone and you don’t even like cooking.

Of necessity, the explanation of this principles contains a list of things that are good works. The issue is not merely adherence to a list. The issue is a genuine desire to go out and do that which is right in the eyes of God, removing from your life those things which are forbidden by Him and adding those things He commands. This addition is not finding the things that we enjoy doing and doing only those. It means we look for any chance to do good, whether we enjoy it or not, and we do it. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)

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