Posted on

Connecting with God’s virtues

Connecting with God’s virtues
Connecting with God’s virtues
The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh
The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer

Background text:
Titus 2:11-12
Devotional text:
1 Corinthians 13:13

Lately, I’ve been reading about God’s virtues, stories based on scripture and personal stories of how following the virtues taught to us by God have helped people in a number of circumstances.

As I’ve thought on this subject, it has led me to read more scriptures that give me further understanding. Today, I share with you, my friends, the wonderful words from the Bible that speak so clearly to us today.

Although the word virtue is not often heard today, it is synonymous with the word godliness. When we live a life that is close to God, following godly ways, our lives become virtuous. When speaking of virtues, we are speaking of growing in our thoughts and actions that connect us with God and his grace.

According to theologists, there are seven heavenly virtues, though you won’t find them named this way anywhere in the Bible. They are made up of what is known as the Cardinal Virtues and the Theological Virtues.

Whereas the Cardinal Virtues date back to the teachings of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, these same four virtues are found in scripture. Scripture tells us it is the Holy Spirit who enhances them within us. These virtues are prudence (wisdom), temperance (moderation of desires), fortitude (courage) and justice (righteousness).

Then, there are three theological virtues that do not arise with humans, but are given to us by Christ from God. They are faith, hope and love. We find them in 1 Corinthians 13:13 where it tells us that “the greatest of these is love.”

Love is the root of all virtues. When we know God’s love inside of us, we can then pass on God’s love to others.

This is what 1 John 4:7-11 tells us about God’s love: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God … This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

“This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

As we look at what the scriptures have to say about living a virtuous life, we go to the letters of Peter.

From 1 Peter 1:15-16, we learn that, as we follow Jesus, we grow in holiness, righteousness and justice. As followers of Jesus, living lives that are good for us and also pleasing to God becomes part of our daily routine.

Moving forward to 2 Peter 1:3-11, we learn that even the power to grow in Christ does not come from us, but from God. This is explained through salvation. As we choose to belief in Jesus, we are filled with the “Holy Spirit who empowers us with God’s goodness and ability to escape the corruption of the world due to its evil desires.”

From verse 5 onward, we learn these things: “ … make every effort to add to your faith goodness (virtue is used in the King James Bible), and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
“For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

These words from Peter were written to all believers and are as meaningful today as they were to followers of Jesus in the past. They don’t happen all at once. They are stepping stones to finding God’s love. God’s love leads us to live rightly and to treat one another as God treats us through his love.

In Romans 12:2, we learn about our new life in Christ as believers: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Colossians 3:12 takes this further as it reads, “ … as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience … ”

These scriptures help us to remember that staying close to God helps us to discern whether things are right or wrong for us. They tell us that being a believer gives us a new life, making us better people, helping us to realize that we are sons and daughters of God.

For help in following the ways of the Lord, let’s look at Paul’s letter to the Philippians. In Philippians 4:8, we read, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.
“Whatever you have learned, or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

It is our faith, our hope, along with God’s love within us, that lead us into living the godly life, the life of virtue, as we follow the examples given to us in the Bible.

As Paul wrote in his letters to believers, we should focus our thoughts on those things that are good, true, admirable, lovely, pure and right. Having the right mindset helps us in our faith and in living a life of virtue.

I’ll close with the words of Titus 2:11-12: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”