Yesterday I attended the Virtuous Woman's Conference at our church. I had been impressed by the movie on Friday night, and looked forward to how life stories would impact ladies that came to the conference. From Jessica Lynch, the first woman prisoner of war, to women who starred in the movie, each one had a life message of hope and promise of new life in Christ. We were challenged by the example of the Proverbs 31 virtuous woman, and reminded by Pam Jenkins that virtue in our lives is not the result of being. It is the result of belonging. Yes, it is the result of belonging to Christ. This inspires me to add another idea about virtue. I would like you to consider the idea that it is not only the result of belonging. Virtue is also the result of becoming.
What is virtue? Webster defines it as “conformity to a standard of right, a beneficial quality or power of a thing, strength or courage, or a commendable quality or trait.” When we conform to Christ's standard we become more like Him. In 2 Peter 1:5-7, we are given a of list of character traits, and told we are to apply these to become mature believers. The foundation from which we add these character traits is our faith in Christ. We make the decision to add goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love in our lives. He brings the power to accomplish it.
When we accept Christ into our hearts by faith, we belong to Him. This is Christ's work of grace that sets us free, and gives us a new life in Him. His virtue has been birthed within us, and the power to become a believer who is spiritually mature is also ours. It is this surrender by faith to Him that begins the incredible journey to become all He desires for us. This journey of life in Christ is filled with trials, problems, and suffering which either speak defeat to a believer or build greater faith in God. As we made the decision to add Peter's character traits in our lives, God's brings His power to help accomplish what might seem impossible. This life's journey which began by belonging to Him grows us to become more virtuous like Him. We become “conformed to His standard”. Living for Him becomes easier with each step. Peace and joy will ultimately reign.
Peter ends his list of character traits with this thought. “For if you possess these qualities (goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love) IN INCREASING MEASURE, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8). Belong to Him! Become all that He calls you to be! Continue to “become” for the rest of your life. Allow the things you face to make you better instead of bitter. You may disappoint yourself as you step forward in faith, but He will never disappoint you. He will never fail you. Greater faith and a virtuous life will be your reward.