Vice driven decisions begin slowly, like a small snowball, as it begins its descent down the steep
slope. Then, as vice feeds upon vice the snowball grows to gigantic proportions and travels at
extreme speed before it crashes spectacularly at the base of the mountain, causing untold damage to village below.
Our culture, like the villagers at the base of the mountain, are still reeling from the impact of the vice ball.
Dazed and dizzy we wander about searching for meaning, ever elusive happiness, and purpose.
This searching is turbulent, fraught with challenges and, at times, soul destroying.
What if there was an easier way?
What if the answers to all of life’s biggest questions could be found simply by changing our habits? What if the answers were right in front of us, within our grasp, and all we had to do was to reach out and grab them?
Virtue is that solution, hidden in plain sight.
But of course, virtue is that antiquated and old fashioned notion, promoted by patriarchal
institutions. Except that it isn’t.
Virtue is not a fad, it does not go ‘out of vogue’ in the way of crimped hair and white washed denim. That it might not be at the forefront of our minds, or our society, is another thing altogether.
Virtue endures, inspires and encourages the good in others.
Cultivating virtue requires daily toil to choose the good over the bad, not in the self-interested way of the casual dieter who rationalizes ‘all things in moderation’ when they over indulge, but in an organised, effective and determined way. It is a willingness to look at one’s spiritual shortcomings as an opportunity to exercise some virtuous muscle and improve our spiritual fitness. To cultivate virtue means we have to continually examine our success along the way.
It is the personal acceptance that we are not perfect, that one is a sinner, and yet appreciating that one is a child of God, redeemed and loved. For indeed, no cultivation of virtue can occur without recognising and accepting who we are in Christ.
Virtue protects the dignity of male and female, created in God’s image and likeness. It accepts and appreciates the dignity of both whilst recognising their complementary differences.
And it leads to happiness, meaning and purpose in our lives.
As Paul explains to the Romans, we are not made to adhere to the world (Rom 12: 2):
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Instead of a dizzying and ineffective quest for meaning and happiness, virtue refocuses us to discern that unique gifts and talents God has given us, and for what purpose that gift was given. Instead of celebrating the vanity of our abilities, virtue disposes us to be other centred.
Again, the words of Paul encourage us (Rom 12: 3-8):
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more
highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
Virtue then, is the key that unlocks the answers to life’s great questions: who am I, what am I called to do and why am I here? But further to this, it unleashes our capacity and leads us to pose more important questions: who am I in Christ, what is God’s will for me and what is my calling?
And these questions are, ultimately, what this life is all about.
~ By Emily Shaw
Emily is the writer and graphic design for Virtue Ministry which is, at the name suggests, a virtue driven ministry based in regional NSW which strives to help people grow in virtue and unleash their unique potential. Their ministry is all about encouraging people to be all that they were made to be as well as promoting authentic relationships. They present talks and workshops to schools and parishes.
For more information or to book a speaker visit: www.virtueministry.org.au