“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” (2 Peter 1:2-9).
When I first became a believer, I was like the woman with the alabaster jar (Matthew 26:7). I loved much because I had been forgiven much. I still do, but as the years have slipped by, something happens occasionally in my life that I think happens to many believers: sometimes my gratefulness towards God’s mercy gets transformed into frustration at my lingering sinful nature. I understand why I failed so greatly before knowing Christ, but it has been difficult to accept my failings when I feel I should know better now ….
It’s easy to beat yourself up, even run from God, when you fall. Out of frustration and shame, I have often begged God to rid me of my sinful tendencies. Of course, God hasn’t just instantly healed me with a lightning bolt, although He could. However, He does hear me and answers me with a different kind of grace ….
Today, I’d like to speak on “holy habits” or more traditionally known as virtues. The simple definition of virtue is:
: “morally good behavior or character or a good and moral quality” …
Practicing virtue is a lot like lifting weights; it’s exercise that builds health in your soul. When a person cultivates these virtues in his or her life, they are cooperating with the Creator’s design for the human soul ….
Aristotle said, “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit” so in essence, we could say that virtues come through establishing good habits …
Most every woman knows of the passage about a virtuous woman found in (Proverbs 31:10-31). It begins with: “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.”
It’s important to note here that pursuing a virtuous life is not the same as trying to earn salvation. Our salvation is a free gift that flows from God’s grace, and cannot be earned by any measure, including the very best virtues. But in our Christian journey, it’s important to do our part to improve our character so that we can grow in character and then more accurately reflect Christ’s goodness to the world. Let’s take a closer look at a few great virtues:
“For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.” (Proverbs 8:11)
You’ve probably known some people with book smarts, yet who lack common sense. Or perhaps you know someone with street smarts who lacks knowledge. A person who has cultivated the virtue of wisdom can not only discern truth, but has the ability to implement their insights appropriately in any given situation. According to scripture, characteristics of wise people include those who prepare properly for hard times (Proverbs 21:20), those who humbly heed instruction and correction (Proverbs 8:9), those who hold their tongues from saying foolish things (Proverbs 10:19), and those who fear the Lord (Proverbs 14:16-35). Because wisdom allows us to discern right from wrong, this virtue sets us up to practice all other virtues ….
“Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.”(Isaiah 1:17).
Most of us have some sense of justice from a very early age when we yell, “It’s not fair!” A just or righteous person gives to others what is deserved, keeps his or her word, and acts fairly even when no one is looking. According to scripture, a just person favors the innocent over the wicked (Proverbs 18:5), never accepts bribes (Proverbs 17:23), aids the poor, fatherless, and widows (Proverbs 29:7), and experiences joy (Proverbs 21:15).
“In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and His children shall have a place of refuge.” (Proverbs 14:26)
While most of us associate courage with lack of fear, courage has more to do with fear put in proper perspective. A courageous person chooses right even when a decision is frightening or comes with a personal cost. Among many traits, the courageous person exalts Christ (Philippians 1:20), holds on to God’s promises (Acts 27:25), and is a bold effective witness for Christ (Acts 4:13). A person can not exercise any virtue for long without courage because sin often appears easier or more attractive than virtue ….
“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” (Proverbs 25:28).
Temperance is simply self-control, and an old-fashioned word for moderation. A temperate person exercises self-control, building a wall against unhealthy, sinful extremes. Among many qualities, scripture tells us that a temperate person does not gossip (1 Timothy 3:11), does not vent anger (Proverbs 29:11), is respectable and able to take on leadership roles (1 Timothy 3:2), and is at the utmost sexually pure (1 Thessalonians 4:2-5).
So, are any of these virtues lacking in your life? I can certainly see some areas where I am still weak. Thankfully, with God’s grace and a few good decisions, we can all grow in our effectiveness and productiveness for Christ to become the men and women we are meant to become.
In conclusion, identify which virtue you struggle most with. Ask God for the grace to grow and make one positive change in your behavior this week that will help you develop these “holy habits” for the glory of our Lord. Because don’t we all long to hear Him say those glorious words: “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:23).
Let us pray ~
Father I thank You for seeking me out and drawing me into Your family through Your everlasting cords of love. Thank You for loving me and saving me and I pray that I may live my life in a manner that gives honor to You. Keep me I pray from worldly ways or ungodly philosophies, but rather I ask that I might have my mind renewed day by day, as I submit to the leading and guidance of the Holy Ghost in my life. Wash me with the cleansing water of Your Word and direct and govern me in my daily choices, as may be beneficial to me and the most pleasing to You.
Lord, enable me to grasp and conform to those virtues that will make me a virtuous woman. Sharpen my understanding of the truths in Your Word and give me discernment and wisdom to follow in the paths of righteousness, for Your names sake. Help me I pray, to see others with Your eyes and to learn to love my brothers and sisters in Christ, as You have loved me, with a godly love that looks to the needs and necessities of others before considering my own. Please give to me the spiritual wisdom that defies my obstinacy and leads me to true knowledge of You.
Keep me looking to Jesus day by day, and I pray that in Your grace, You would use me in Your service, to Your praise and glory, in Jesus name I pray, Amen …