Virtue is an anachronism in our culture. It is not sought after in our post-modern, sexually-revolutionized world because it means change, by giving up ideas or actions that make us feel good for the moment, but in the long run do us harm. But the desire is buried deep within us and remains an undercurrent in our society. Publicized in the purity movement, pre-teens and teenagers are encouraged through ceremonies, contracts and purity rings, to remain virgins till marriage. This specific push for moral excellence, however, is not the only application of leading a virtuous life. In the Christian faith, virtuous living is known by another name. We call it being set apart, or sanctified, when we pursue holiness in all that we do.
The New Testament has much to say about what virtuous living looks like, with Jesus as the ultimate authority and others such as Paul, Peter and James providing excellent commentary. The Old Testament definitely contributes to the foundation for Godly living but Christians are to live in the spirit of the law, rather than under it. With that, we should not ignore our Jewish teachings, especially what is known as the Shema. It is the gold standard of faith in Yahweh, found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and updated by Jesus in Mark 12:29-31. It declares the priority of loving The Lord with everything you have, above all else.
There are many role models in the pages of Scripture that exhibit the holy life. A most interesting one, often studied by women, is the Wife of Noble Character found in Proverbs 31:10-31. This archetype of a Godly wife is both encouraging and challenging, and she has something to say to all those who seek to live in truth, regardless of gender.
When you dissect the aspects of her life in these 21 verses, 4 groupings come to light. They are Relationships, Character, Labor and Outreach. Relationships encompass the majority of the verses; then Character; Labor- or our divine purpose or calling, which includes spiritual gifts; and finally reaching out to the lost.
Often Outreach is pushed to the front of the line. But these versus make it clear there is a pattern to living an abundant life in Christ. We must work to ensure our relationships, starting with The Lord and our immediate family, are secure. Then we can be transformed into who we were designed to be, equipped to do the work assigned to us – starting within the Church; and finally to bring new believers into the fold.
Throughout your journey, these things may be symbiotic, such as bringing people to Jesus as they see your thoughts and actions radically transformed. But our focus is always first to be in communion with Our Lord. Matthew 6:33 is not a suggestion; it holds the key for how we become The Lord’s Man or Woman. With virtue in The Lord as our focus, everything else will fall into place and we can leave a legacy that brings peace and bears fruit.