From Faith to Virtue
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. – 2 Peter 1:5-7
Virtue: Behavior showing high moral standards
I am typing this right after a 4 am gym session. See, I have gotten slack about my workouts. For the past probably year and a half, I have been hitting the gym at least four days a week. I usually make myself go on Monday and Tuesday, then one more day Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, then one day on the weekend. As long as I keep that pattern, I feel great, am healthy, and seem to have all the energy I need to do everything that I do. I have faith that if I work out and eat right, then I will be healthy. But what good is my faith in working out and eating right if I don’t actually do it? None whatsoever.
Faith without works is dead. — James 2:17
When I am counseling people who are far from God, I go through a two-step process. First, I want to hear their salvation story. When did you get saved? Describe it to me. Take me back to the time and place where it happened. Tell me who in all was involved. How did you feel? By hearing these answers, I know whether or not the person has had a genuine salvation experience. They have either placed their faith in Jesus Christ or they have not.
The follow up question is one of my favorites. I constantly ask myself this question even today. It is a question that can be worded for believers and non-believers. If they have faith, I say “Since you know God is real and He has saved you, loves you, and wants the very best for you; what do you think He would want you to start doing or even stop doing?” If the person has not placed their trust and hope in Christ, I plant a seed with a hypothetical question: “Suppose there really is a God in Heaven who really does love you and wants the very best for you, what do you think He would want you to start doing or stop doing?”
Here are some answers that are often repeated:
“He would want me to start treating my mom better.”
“He would want me to start trying in school and bring my grades up.”
“He would want me to have a better attitude at work.”
“He would want me to spend more time with my family.”
“He would want me to start reading and learning the Bible.”
“He would want me to stop _________________” (partying, cussing, lying, cheating, stealing, watching porn, sleeping around, etc.)
Then comes the final follow-up question: “If you were to start this new way of behaving, who would benefit the most?” The person always says that they themselves would benefit the most in the long term. We then figure out one simple thing they can actually do to get started. I realize that if the person doesn’t have faith, then they haven’t really added virtue to faith, but maybe, just maybe, they will do it and realize that God was the source of the blessing that came afterwards. After all, they changed their behavior because it is what they believed God would have them do based on the assumption that He does exist and actually loves them and wants the best for them. They just might begin to think, “well maybe He does exist!”
If you are a Christian who has faith and adds this behavior of actually being obedient to The One whom you claim to believe in and trust . . .
You have just gone from faith to virtue.
If you want a really cool assignment:
Read Luke 5:1-11.
Find the specific moment when Peter went from faith to virtue.