For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 2 Peter 1:5-7 (ESV)
Peter exhorts us to supplement our faith with virtue. The Greek word Peter uses for virtue in this verse means manliness, valor, excellence and praise. The dictionary gives this definition: behavior showing high moral standards or a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being.
I think it is interesting that one of the definitions of virtue is manliness. A real man has virtue; high moral standards. A man of virtue is a man as God intended him to be. It takes courage to maintain strong moral values when those around you ridicule such morals. Only a man of valor will do so in the face of adversity. Albert Barnes wrote, “True virtue is not a tame and passive thing. It requires great energy and boldness, for its very essence is firmness, manliness, and independence.”
The best example of man as God intended him to be is Jesus Christ. Jesus’ behavior exemplified high moral standards in several ways. He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15), was always obedient and pleasing to his heavenly Father (John 8:29), was not swayed by people’s opinions of him (Matthew 22:16), was not afraid to confront hypocrisy and injustice (Matthew 21:12) and was always gentle and kind to those in need (Matthew 9:36).
What would our faith look like to those around us if we did not have virtue (high moral standards)? Our manner of life would not be worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27). Our testimony about the saving work of Christ in our lives would be of no value. We would be thought of as disingenuous or hypocritical and the name of Christ would be blasphemed because of us (Romans 2:24). One of the very reasons for our living a virtuous life is that we might praise and be a witness to the world of the virtues (excellencies) of the God who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). That is why Peter exhorts us to make every effort to supplement (fully apply) virtue with our faith.
One test of our virtue is the nature of our conduct when no one is looking. Do the principles and morals we portray behind closed doors match the principles and morals we portray in public? What about our thoughts? The apostle Paul wrote, Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence (virtue), if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 ESV)
The Bible is the textbook for all things virtuous. Hiding God’s words in our hearts helps us to stay on a virtuous path. The Psalmist wrote, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105 ESV) How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. (Psalm 119:9 ESV) I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11 ESV)
Do you compromise your standards in the face of adversity? Are you virtuous when no one is looking?
Scriptures for meditation: