Friday, September 05, 2008

Whatever Happened to Virtue?

"For the righteous LORD loves justice. The virtuous will see His face." (Psalm 11:7, Living Bible)

Whatever happened to VIRTUE?

It's a word we don't often hear much anymore. It didn't use to be that way. A glance down the Hallway of History is illuminated with many great quotes regarding virtuous living. Here are but a few choice examples:

"Even in decline, a virtuous man increases the beauty of his behavior. A burning stick, though turned to the ground, yet has its flame drawn upwards." (Saskya Pandita, Tibetan Monk, 1120).

"When a virtuous man is raised, it brings gladness to his friends, grief to his enemies, and glory to his posterity.” So said William Johnson, English Dramatist, 1572.

"No people can be great who have ceased to be virtuous." (Samuel Johnson, English poet 1750). Benjamin Franklin picked up on this and said, "There never was a truly great man that was not at the same time truly virtuous." (1780).

During the crisis of the Civil War, Frederick Douglas said, "The life of a nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous." (1865).

Somewhere along the way we shifted gears and covertly turned a cold shoulder to such notions. And now we are a Nation more given to Vice than to Virtue. How did this happen? Somewhere back there several years ago, a group of so-and-so's decided to do a social experiment, which was founded upon the faulty notion that Life and all things in it is better without God.

Business is better without God. Politics are better without God. Education is better without God. Sex is better without God. Money is better without God. Society is better without God. The Arts are better without God.

Such thinking is nonsense -- and we now see the full fruit of these seeds in the dismal indifference which characterizes a society of non-virtuous people. Selfishness trumps self-sacrifice; personal interests take priority over the needs and concerns of others; petty arguments have replaced great debates -- and this little piggie said, "ME, ME, ME," all the way home.

But God is moving among us even still. He is summoning a people who hunger for that which is virtuous. Maybe you are one of them, and your heart is being drawn to the higher and nobler things of God. If that be so, then let me leave you today with Paul's timeless counsel, and we'll talk more about this tomorrow.

"Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things." (Philippians 4:8).


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