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The focus scripture for our current series is 2 Peter 1:2-8, more specifically verses 5-8:
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Since faith was a major topic of discussion last year, you can go back and review the Hebrews 11 Parts 1 and 2 series. Today’s focus will be on virtue. Virtue is defined as “conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude.”1 In other words, we make changes to our lives to follow the moral and ethical standards that God has set out for us.
Why is it important to live a virtuous life? As Christ’s disciples, we set the example for those around us. When I think of why it is important to be a good example, Matthew 5:13-16 comes to mind:
13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Be the salt and be the light by choosing to be virtuous. You will be surprised at how much of an influence for good you can be when you allow virtue to become a part of you. So how do we develop virtue? You must know what God’s standards are and evaluate how you are living your life compared to what His word says. The Ten Commandments and studying the life of Christ are good places to start. If you attend church, at some point you should have had sermons or lessons about moral and ethical standards to live by. Make a list of the standards you know about. Which ones are you living? Which ones do you need to work on? Select one to two standards from that list that you want to be better at and begin to set a plan to accomplish your goals.
I don’t want to make this post a list of ‘you must do this and that to be virtuous’ because we all come from different backgrounds. But I will say this, we should avoid having impure thoughts, language, and actions. Everything starts in our thoughts. We choose whether or not we will act out the thoughts that come into our minds. If we surround ourselves with goodness, our thoughts will start reflecting that pattern. Easier said than done. Like everything else, it takes practice. Start evaluating your daily routine. What small things could you alter to make your daily routine be filled with better activities?
A few years ago, I realized that the music I listened to was affecting my interactions with others. I began to listen more closely to the lyrics and recognized that the words were no good despite the beat being great. I was shocked that I had not paid that much attention to those details. I was singing along to not so wholesome lyrics. I decided I needed to stop listening to garbage lyrics and seek for more uplifting ones. I went through my music library and deleted the songs that did not share a good message. Some artists went down to a few songs per album and others I could keep all the songs. Once I saw the pattern, it was easy for me to realize what type of music I now wanted to listen to. I still have a good mix of music from all genres, but the categories with the most songs has shifted. To me, that is an example of changing my life around to try to become virtuous. Music can trigger certain thoughts. Some thoughts you really don’t want to become actions. If you cut off the root of the thoughts, you can alter the direction you want your thoughts to go. Changing the type of music I listened to did that for me. You can follow that example or even expand it to the type of shows or movies you watch.
There are two scriptures I want to emphasize in this discussion, Psalms 24:3-5 and D&C 121:45.
3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God…
God wants us to stand in holy places. He wants us to come to Him with clean hands and a pure heart. He wants to bless us. You are the only one that can recognize what you need to work on in your own life. You know your strengths and your weaknesses. What can you do to make sure you can stand in a holy place with clean hands and a pure heart? First, you need to seek out your Heavenly Father in prayer. Second, you must repent and ask for His forgiveness. Third, you must allow the Atonement of Jesus Christ to work in your life. Fourth, you must make changes. As you make changes, I invite you to remember to “let virtue garnish [your] thoughts unceasingly.”
Please share by commenting below what being virtuous means to you and how changing certain things in your life brought about greater blessings. Also, take on the free five day Christlike Attributes Evaluation Challenge by clicking on the picture below.
Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.dictionary.com/.
Missed the first post of the series? Review it here:
Eight Christlike Attributes for Our Spiritual Identity