Have you ever been in a situation that has required you to make a quick moral decision? I once witnessed a man getting jumped by two other men from my living room window. I distinctly remember being faced with a split-second moral decision – do I run out there and potentially put myself in harms way or do I protect myself and do nothing hoping that someone else will sort it out? The point of telling you this isn’t to boast of any heroic act on my part (I am very thankful for other neighbours also coming out which scared the attackers off and the quick response of the police and ambulance services) but to highlight the difficulty of making good moral decisions. Moral decisions aren’t restricted to dramatic ones like this example, but present themselves in all kinds of subtle ways in everyday life such as; ‘am I going to speak badly of a person whom I don’t like or has hurt me?’ or ‘am I going to lose my temper with my wife scratching the car?’
Over the last few weeks we have been looking at 1Peter 1 together on a Saturday and I am going to take the next few weeks to look at what Peter encourages us to “supplement” our faith with to keep us from being “ineffective” and “unfruitful” in our knowledge of Jesus.
5 For this very reason (see my last few posts for the that reason), make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The first of these is “virtue” - behaviours of moral excellence in both body and mind. It seems Peter isn’t going to be setting any low bars.
It seems slightly obvious to state that God cares about our moral behaviour and the fact that humans have tried to define what is good for themselves, rather than looking to God to define what is good, is at the very most tragic point of the Biblical story. I have three short thoughts that I hope will inspire you to pray today;
- Doing God’s good is good for us - God isn’t a killjoy who has put definitions on good just to control you or spoil your fun. God’s definitions of what is morally good are purposeful and He wants us to live in a way that is truly human (i.e. the way God created us to live). (Psalm 1)
- Nothing worth doing is ever easy – Let’s not be ignorant and think that deciding to be good is as easy as flipping a switch, as we await Christ’s return we are still plagued by the indwelling sin in our human nature. But don’t allow that to lose you hope in doing good as our unity with Christ gives us power over sin! (Rom 6:1-4)
- When we do God’s good, we bring life to a dying world – Followers of Jesus are to be salt and light because the morality of the world is bland and dark. God created mankind to be His image in the world, walking talking representations of the God who is life and to do His good is to bring forth life! (Matt5:13-16)
Living a life of Godly virtue can seem like a moral mountain but as followers of Jesus who are being renewed by His Holy Spirit and trust in a God who can do immeasurably more than we can possibly ask, we would be mistaken to think we climb it alone. Use these words from Colossians 3 to help you pray for virtue:
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.