“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge…” (2 Peter 1:5)

 I find it interesting that as Peter is writing on essential attitudes the Christian needs to adequately build up his faith at the very foundation is virtue.  What is virtue and why is it so important?  Let us in this article give consideration to these things.

 The word, “virtue” (ajre/th, areté,) is defined as, “the quality of moral excellence” (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Louw and Nida).  The Words Study Dictionary of the New Testament (by Spiros Zodhiates) in describing this word says, “Arete denotes in a moral sense what gives man his worth, his efficiency.  In the NT: virtue, moral excellency, perfection, goodness of action.”  In simpler terms, virtue describes one who has godly character which governs everything he does.  When I think of virtue words like integrity or character come to mind.

 There is a very good reason why virtue is at the foundation of the Christian’s development.  It is about who you are deep down inside.  It is not the superficial persona others see.  Anyone can put on a good act and fool others.  Virtue is what will cause you to keep learning (knowledge) and accept it, develop self-control and perseverance as you work through challenges and apply what you have learned, and produce godliness, brotherly kindness and love as you live the Christian life (cf. 2 Peter 1:5-7).

 Perhaps the best example of virtue is that of God Himself.  1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”  The word, “praises” is the same Greek word we are discussing.  In so many ways God (and Jesus) demonstrates what true virtue is about.   
  He is not hypocritical in His conduct.  2 Chronicles 19:7 says, “Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.”
  He is constant and unchanging.  Malachi 3:6 says, “For I am the Lord, I do not change…”  James 1:17 tells us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”  Jesus Christ is also described as, “the same, Yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).  
  He is a good God.  Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”
  He is no respecter of persons.   Romans 2:11 says, “For there is no partiality with God.”  In Acts 10:34 Peter perceived, “that God shows no partiality.” And He has always been that way (Deut. 10:17).  The same can be said of our Lord Jesus (Matt. 22:16). 
  He does what is right, just and fair.  We need to know that if we are faithful to God we have nothing to be afraid of.  He knows our needs and He cares about us.  He will treat us with justice and righteousness.  Titus 3:4-6 speaks of His kindness and love.  Ephesians 2:4 speaks of His mercy and love.  2 Peter 3:9 tells us that He does NOT want anyone to perish.  We know that even Jesus in what He did wants to save us (Rom. 3:24-25).   But another side of justice and righteousness (and virtue) is the realization that He will punish the wicked.  Far too often today, the ungodly let the wicked get away with their corruption (cf. Rom. 1:32).   Isaiah condemned Israel noting, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light and light for darkness’ Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20).  Prov. 17:13 says, “Whoever rewards evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.”  Ecclesiastes 8:11 notes, “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” BUT TRUE justice will NOT let wickedness go unpunished.  God is truly just.  Romans 2:5-9 says, “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’, eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness – indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish on every soul of man who does evil….”  The Hebrew writer would later say, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10:31). 

  All of these demonstrate the virtue of God.  AND notice that in our text (1 Peter 2:9), His praises (or virtues) are some of the things we need to tell others about.  How often do we complain about God to others instead of telling them of His goodness and warning them of His justice and wrath.

    Another passage dealing with virtue is Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, 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.”  This text calls for us to seriously ponder about the types of attitudes that will make us better.  These include “morally excellent” things.  Just like we have some idea of what a virtuous person is, we also know the types of THINGS that are such.  What are some virtuous things?  Honesty! Fairness!  Truthfulness! Compassion! Love for one another!  Hard work! Bible study! Prayer! Selflessness! And we could go on and on.  The point is that the Christian knows he needs virtue in his life, so he continually considers how what he is doing will make him what he ought to be.  He finds ways to associate with the TRULY good things of this life (that lead to life everlasting).  They become the goal of his character.   There are many reasons for this, among them being the need to be above reproach in his dealings with the world.  Consider Philippians 2:14-16, “Do all things without complaining and disputing,   that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”  Peter in his first epistle challenged the brethren to live in such a way, “having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Pet. 2:12, also 1 Pet. 3:16).   Friends we ought to always think about the other person as we develop our character. 

 Friend, is there virtue in your life?  May others look at us with trust and honor because, like Paul was able to say as he defended himself, we are able to say, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” (Acts 23:1)  Are we consistent at all times? Do we live in true honor? May that always be our goal as we seek to make this life as good as possible while preparing for the next.  Think about it!  TATJR