The Greatest

What would you suppose would be the greatest virtue? We certainly live in an age of “virtue signaling”, something I don’t completely understand. From what I have seen, it seems to apply an “I am better than you” approach. “I am better than you” because I am “woke” about certain topics, or practice certain lifestyle choices (like veganism) or go out and protest that “black lives matter” even if I am white, yellow or red. To signal my virtues, I have to show you that I am virtuous, that I am better in certain areas of social choices, than you are. So it seems to me that “virtue signaling” is all about pride.

I don’t think pride is listed as a virtue. In fact, pride is listed as one of the things that God hates.

There are six things that the LORD hates, even seven things that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift to run to evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who spreads discord among family members.
(Pro 6:16-19)

Forgive me for saying this, but I think we’ve seen a lot of those six things over the past few days in the streets of American cities, all in the name of virtue signaling. I fear that our nation is destined for judgment, simply because we have replaced virtues with abominations.

How does the Lord define virtues? In the verse above, Paul outlines three primary virtues that every Christian ought to practice, faith, hope and love. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. We have faith that Jesus rose from the dead, even though we may not have seen it. We have faith we were saved at our conversion by the blood of Jesus and given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We exercise this hope that God keeps His promises, and His greatest promise, taking us home with Him when we die.

But the greatest of these Paul notes, is love. Why do you suppose that is? I think love, tempers the other two. Faith and the Faith are close cousins, that is to say, the strength and ability we possess to believe the revealed word of God and the content of that word. We can be a bit overzealous when it comes to faith. If faith outshone the other two, we would exercise and practice our faith without or with little compassion. If hope outshone the other two, we would be out sitting on a hill somewhere waiting for the end. But love compels us to exercise out faith in community, to practice out hope lived out in a life with others. Love requires others to be active. Love requires personal connection. Without love, what is the point of the other two?

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes [faith] in Him would not perish, but receive everlasting life [hope]. (Jn 3:16) It starts with love. God was motivated by love, His greatest virtue, to create us, and to save us. I read somewhere this week that we alone as human beings were created by God for His own sake. He didn’t make us out of necessity, or need, but simply because He wanted to. We are and have always been wanted. That speaks to me. I hope it does to you.

Thank you Lord for wanting us, wanting to make us so that You could love on us. Lord help me share that mighty love with others, not just everybody, but with every person I meet. May that love be real in me that I may share with others. Thank You Lord, In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen.

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I've been in ministry in the Christian Churches/ Churches of Christ for 20+ years. Finished my doctorate in Biblical Studies in 2015. Serve today as a Hospital Chaplain.

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