“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness… For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith VIRTUE (goodness), and to goodness, KNOWLEDGE…” 2 Peter 1:3-5
In a time when virtue was usually exchanged for expedience (sound familiar?), Polycarp remained an example for all times of the power of a virtuous life. In life he lived as a man of honesty and integrity, the kind of man who makes a good friend and citizen. In death, he gave us an example of a noble courage rarely found among men.
Hauled before an angry mob during a time of intense persecution of Christians in Rome, Polycarp had only to hail Caesar as lord and offer a tiny pinch of incense at his altar to escape a tortuous death. Instead, he steadfastly declared, “Eighty-six years I have served Christ, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”
Peter declares that to the faith given us by which we accept God at His word, we are to make every effort to cultivate this thing called goodness or virtue. A word rich in meaning, it is the classic Greek word describing a man known for his moral and ethical excellence in every aspect of life. Following the example of Polycarp, such a life is a life lived well and courageously by the divine power given us in Christ.
To this attribute of virtue Peter suggests adding ‘knowledge’. Why knowledge? Because knowledge, the ability to discern and handle life successfully, flows from a virtuous life. Not knowledge for knowledge sake, but practical knowledge rooted in God’s Word and obedience to truth which moves us to act virtuously.
Radio talk shows are sometimes a magnet for people wanting to express uninformed opinions. Unfortunately, some of the most embarrassing examples involve well-meaning Christians who end up, not making much of Christ, but making Christ look bad. It is shameful how Christ and the truth are so often misrepresented to the world simply because of a lack of knowledge and goodness (virtue).
A virtuous heart combined with godly discernment keeps us from making ignorant statements on radio talk shows, social media or around our grandchildren. Such equipped faith enables us to act rightly and make honorable decisions in the daily circumstances of life—for goodness sake!
There are several “hot” topics today about which Christians are assumed to be ignorant—evolution vs. creation, climate change, politics, sexuality, gender identity, etc. The next time you are with your grandchildren (depending how old they are), ask them to write down questions they have about a few of these topics and place them in a jar. At mealtime, or any other appropriate time, take a question from the jar and ask for responses to the question. Grandparents are allowed to respond, but NOT to preach or attack a child’s response. If we are genuine, gracious and listen well, they will be more likely to ask and receive what we have to say. And you may learn some things yourself that you didn’t know before.
Be prepared to speak with knowledge seasoned with grace and goodness, not ignorance. Learn to ask questions about how virtue and knowledge impact our responses to what is going on around us. Discussing such questions could be profitable teaching moments with your grandchildren who need to understand how virtue and knowledge help us make right choices even when those choices are anything but safe.
GRANDPAUSE: “Christ became what we are, to make us what He is.” — Wm. Barclay