“Who can find a virtuous woman?”Proverb 31:10
If Earth received a visitor from outer space, they would be sadly disappointed in their discovery. Instead of signs of intelligent life, humans have regressed to ‘virtue-signaling’. (Wisdom taken from Mallard Fillmore) Virtue-signaling is slang for a disclaimer to keep from offending anyone with the truth. It is the ‘out’ for anyone wanting to be everyone’s friend.
How sad that virtue has fallen so far. When I was in school, we were taught character traits that were desirable in men and women. Traits like: dependable, observant, kind, cheerful, helpful, diligent, perseverant, and tactful were not only seen as desirable, they were taught as essential to maturity. The presence of true virtue never needed to be signaled.
What is virtue?
The root of the word virtue is Latin, vir, or a man. There is a great lack of manliness among men, but that is only the root. The definition of virtue by Noah Webster as “moral excellence” cites this quotation: “Virtue is nothing more than voluntary obedience to the truth.” Mr. Webster is definitely on to something here.
The Bible mentions virtue in its various forms only 11 times. In the Old Testament, ‘virtuous’ and ‘virtuously’ refer exclusively to women. In the New Testament, ‘virtue’ refers primarily to Jesus Christ, and to Christian men.
Who can find a virtuous MAN?
Virtue in Scripture is the qualities of character that help you to be who God created you to be. Naturally, a person does not increase in virtue, they increase in vice. We are not evolving into a better state with each passing day- by our sinful nature and sinful choices, we move farther from being what God made us to be.
Physical science illustrates this perfectly. Spin a quarter on a table, and read this next paragraph.
At birth, we were an object set in motion. Everything we could grow into was catapulted into being with the gift of life. That was the first, and for many people, the last influx of outside influence upon them. Their life is like Buzz Lightyear realizing flying is “falling with style.” We try to get the most of life by making it efficient, preserving the momentum by educational or medical means. But we can never recover energy lost without Outside Influence. The coin shudders a last death rattle before becoming still.
If this is true physically, how much more morally! We lose ground and time each day to valueless pursuits and crooked choices. Our parents spun into the grave as a result of their sin, and we are doomed to as well. “Lo, this only have I found, God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29) We need Someone to give us new life.
Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”John 3:3
Virtue is conveyed from some source, like a canteen filled with water from a mountain spring. Where can we look today to quench the thirst for the character to be who God made us to be after we were saved?
Much of what we will become was raised into us. Moms are the first influence upon a person’s life. I believe that is why women have such value placed on them in the Lord’s eyes. About a mother, He said, “Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.” (Proverb 31:29)
Infancy’s the tender fountain,William R. Wallace
Power may with beauty flow,
Mothers first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow —
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
How counter-intuitive it is, that the virtue we might call manliness begins with motherliness. For special missions of mercy, the Lord will call a woman aside from the blessings of the cradle to the field of missions. Gladys Alyward, Amy Carmichael, Darlene Rose, and Mary Slessor are just a few inspirational ladies who won many men to Christ. Truly, “Their price is far above rubies.” (Proverb 31:10b) How sobering, if Solomon’s search failed him for a virtuous woman THEN, what hope does one have to find her NOW? Nevertheless, a Godly lady is a fount of virtue from which a man’s character is replenished.
Turn the page to the Gospels, and meet the Son of God. If anyone could restore us, surely it would be Him. See him in the crowded streets, and the Bible says, “And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.” (Luke 6:19)
Jesus Christ “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38) and to each expiring soul He gave of Himself to bring them back from death. The Bible says, “In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4) and at every opportunity He imparted life at a touch.
Peter knew something of the virtue of Christ. In Acts 3:12-26, after healing a lame man at the porch of the temple, he proclaims, “Why marvel ye at this? Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?” He calls Jesus “the Prince of life,” who will return and bring “the restitution of all things.” He concludes, “Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” Peter had seen the physical AND the spiritual healing power of the Lord Jesus. He knew where to find it.
But after the ascension of Christ, and the passing of Peter and Paul, there was no one left to touch. If the virtue of God is conveyed by brushing His garment, (Mark 5:30) where in all the earth may we receive the strength of character to be what God created us to be?
Peter had witnessed his mother-in-law healed at the touch of Christ. Peter had also experienced the renewal of apostleship by a fireside with Jesus Christ. Is it any wonder that Peter emphasizes virtue as a necessary part of spiritual growth?
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue;” (2 Peter 1:5)
Peter emphasizes the need for virtue as the very next pursuit of a believer in Jesus Christ. Believe, have faith, then seek the character of Christ. (How to pursue virtue is looked at step-by-step in our “Next Step” series) But even if one were to pursue it, where would one come in contact with it?
Can we touch the words of God? My friend, if you do not believe this, then you will never be what God intended you to be. John records that Christ esteemed his words above his body. Peter records that virtue is essential to spiritual growth. Now read the rest of Peter’s thought:
“For he (Jesus) received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:”2 Peter 1:16-19
A mother’s influence fades, and at its best is sin-tainted. Forty days after His resurrection, the Son of God returned to Heaven. It is as many feared when Jesus said in John 6:62, “What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?” The world wasn’t ready for Christ when He arrived, and they weren’t ready for Him to leave either. When He left, would all His benevolence and philanthropy leave also?
Perhaps not. In the very next verse, Jesus says, “It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63)
The transforming power to be who God made you to be is now transferred through the text of the Holy Scripture. By that I mean the King James Bible. It is the last holy thing on earth, and you and I can touch it with our bare hands, and read it with our naked eye. When you open that Book, you access the only pure source of virtue.
And how does our world need more virtue today.