Many who know me have heard me press in on 2 Peter chapter 1 wherein we read a list of things we who are of the Body of Christ are called to possess and increase in. I have developed a system of sorts focused in on intentionally growing in those things. You can access the 2 Peter 1 “Growth Chart” at the following link, https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/2-peter-1-growth-chart/
Recently I marked out the desire to increase in virtue, and ended up, The Book of Virtues compiled by William J. Bennett. Mr. Bennett offers insights on and excerpts from various pieces of literature that he marked out as teachings of “moral literacy” and reinforcing “character formation”. Speaking to our contemporary societal situation, I agree with Mr. Bennett that, “Moorings and anchors come in handy in life, moral anchors and moorings have never been more necessary”.
Being that today is Memorial Day in the United States, a day that we have marked out to remember the courage of those who have fought and defended the freedoms we citizens enjoy, it is fitting to speak on virtues. Also, just last evening I sat in on a discussion at The Blue Point Bible Church that mentioned the need for increased and objective virtue and morality to be instilled in our education system. So, I am glad to offer up this review of the book and also help continue a necessary increase in the moral reasoning of our contemporary world.
Mr. Bennett marked out 10 virtues and provided various anecdotes to reinforce each on. Self-control, compassion, responsibility, friendship, work, courage, perseverance, honesty, loyalty, and faith all in that that order are the 10 virtues marked out. As you may notice some of that virtues are also included in the list provided in 2 Peter chapter 1. Therefore, it is at this time that before you continue on reading I encourage you to begin to examine yourself and prayerfully ask the Lord to convict you wherein you might need to truly increase.
What I will dofor the remainder of this blog is detail insights shared throughout The Book of Virtues. If anything piques your interest, I encourage you to investigate it further. Nothing a simple Google search cannot help with.
- Self – control
“Give yourself an even greater challenge than the one you are trying to master and you will develop the powers necessary to overcome the original difficulty”. – William Bennett
Aesop’s fable, “The Flies and the Honey Pot” details not destroying ourselves for the sake of quick little pleasures. Read the fable here – https://fablesofaesop.com/the-flies-and-the-honey-pot.html
Surely reading through our nation’s first president, George Washington’s Rules of Civility in Conversations Among Men could infuse an interesting challenge in decency and morality in our contemporary society. Here is an reading through those details, https://managers.usc.edu/files/2015/05/George-Washingtons-Rules.pdf
“What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?” – George Elliot
Also written by George Elliot is the poem that challenges each of us so much that I recently mentioned it in a sermon. Count that Day Lost. Read here — https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/count-that-day-lost/
“There is no end to the good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit for it”.
I was impressed to find so many documents and resources that had to do with American principles and civil rights. Consider for example, the American’s Creed, written by William Tyler Page; “I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed, a democracy in a republic, a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.”
Also consider looking into how the following mentioned writings and resources encourage you to a greater responsibility within our society; The Federalist Papers, Declaration of Independence, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s letter from Birmingham Jail, Plato on responsibility, and Frederick Douglass’s “The Conscience of a Nation”.
Of course, each of us should be mindful of the often mentioned quote by Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”. As well take note of what C.S. Lewis said in his writing “Men Without Chests”; “…if we fail to pass along specific standards of right and wrong, or what it worthwhile or worthless, admirable or ignoble, than we must share blame for the consequent failings of character”.
Being fair and honest there wasn’t much mentioned in this chapter on this virtue that compelled me to take notes.
Two poems that highlighted the virtue, value, and importance of work were:
Results and Roses – https://allpoetry.com/Results-And-Roses
“We become brave by doing brave acts”. – Aristotle
“Courage is knowing what to fear”. – Plato
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, then to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much neither suffer much…” – Teddy Roosevelt
Surely the poem “Doors of Daring” by Henry can Dyke in sure to challenge us to be courageous and daring. Read the poem at the following link, https://www.poeticous.com/henry-van-dyke/doors-of-daring
Mr. Bennet mentioned the commonly cited phrase, “Just do the next right thing” as a method of reinforcing perseverance. Also, John Locke noted, “Fortitude (which is synonymous with perseverance) is the guard to every other virtue”.
“Dishonesty would have no role to play in a world that revered reality and was inhabited by fully rational creates”.
“An honest man is the noblest work of God”. – Alexander Pope
I was of course encouraged to find the mention of Biblical stories the likes of Jonathan and David or Naomi and Ruth as detailing the virtue of loyalty. Amen!
Mr. Bennett also makes mention of historian and professor, Richard A. Gabriel and speaks of “ethical loyalty”. A Google search about Mr. Gabriel and ethical loyalty showed up to be insightful and I would encourage you in some free reading time to do the same. Mr. Gabriel as he speaks about war tactics and loyalty says, “In essence, to be an ethical soldier is to do one’s duty as to what is ethically right and to know why those ethics bind. Duty is not to be blindly tied to following orders”.
The obvious and blessed mention of “theological virtues” as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:13 includes faith, so we read, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”.
Mr. Bennet concluded thoughts on virtue with details about faith and faithfulness. He shared the Jewish tale of “The Honest Disciple”. Here is how it goes;
“A rabbi once asked his disciples, “What would you do if you found a money purse in the road?” Said the first, “I’d find the owner and return it.” Thought the rabbi, “His answer was in haste; does he really mean it?” Said the second disciple, “If no one saw me find it, I would keep it.” Thought the rabbi, “He is honest, but wicked-hearted.” Said the third disciple, after pondering, “I would be tempted to keep it. I would pray to God for the strength to resist temptation and perform a righteous action.” thought the rabbi, “Now there is a man I can trust!””
May God provide the wisdom as we continue possess and intentional increase in these virtues. May we continue to glorify our Lord Jesus Christ.
In and through Him,