Virtue Or Vice?
It has been said that a virtue in excess is a vice…. Examples:
- Discerning to the point of believing everything you think (evil surmising) – Mt. 7:1-2; 1Tim. 6:4
- Benevolent to the point of poverty of your own family – I Tim. 5:8
- Tolerant to the point of over-looking wrong – Gal. 6:1
- Agreeable to the point of having no convictions – Acts 4:18-20
- Submissive to the point of being “men pleasers” – Gal. 1:10
Is our humility a virtue or vice?
Col 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
Col 2:23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh.
Some religious people think they are showing their “Humility” by:
- Beating/Whipping themselves
- Crawling long distances while being whipped
- Cutting themselves
- Or refraining to marry as a way to show their higher level of humility/righteousness.
Our public worship is not for show: Mathew 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
Humility is not to be something we put on display for others to see. It is a character that we strive for to please God. 1Peter 5:5-7 The following is from an article on the internet by Stephen Smith:
False Humility (Go to the link above to see entire list):
- Preoccupied with Self. But a humble person is as actively interested in others as in himself.
- Admits Small Sins but Ignores Major Sins (Image Control). But a humble person admits sin and also receives an honest rebuke no matter how lowly the source.
- Publicizes Her Own Sacrifices to Impress Others. But a humble person avoids broadcasting her sacrificial labor.
- Uses Himself as the Standard for Other’s Performance. But a humble person looks at the life of Jesus as the example, and points people to him.
- Delights in Debate rather than in Dialogue. But a humble person sees conversation as a two-way street with much to learn, not as a battle to win or lose.
- Is Easily Offended. But a humble person is quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.
- Loves to Impose His Opinion on Others as Truth. But a humble person acts charitably to all, thinks the best of others, and avoids presenting his opinion on a disputable matter as ultimate Truth.
- Enjoys Judging Other People. But a humble person hands judgment over to God and instead busies herself with loving her neighbor and serving God.
Is our piety a virtue or vice? Be careful of being “overly righteous”. Doing so may lead us to impose our zeal on others as a “Test of Faith”. Bible example: Fasting became a “Test of Faith” to some disciples and Pharisees:
- Mat 9:14 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
- Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
- Luke 18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
God said: Mathew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
We need to be careful to not place our standard (opinions/doctrines of men) of righteousness on others.
Col 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
Col 2:21 Touch not; taste not; handle not;
Col 2:22 Which all are to perish with the using; after the commandments and doctrines of men?
Is our belief a virtue or vice?
Some brethren get caught up in turning their beliefs into doctrine. When opinions become doctrine for us, then we may have allowed a virtue to become a vice.
Making a distinction without a difference.
When we strive over words, that when closely examined generally are nothing more than someone making a distinction where there is no significant difference. We have to ask ourselves the question: Do I really need to say something….
The bible warns us to be careful in matters of no significance (profit):
2Ti 2:14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
Riding a “Hobby-Horse”.
Some will find a particular aspect of the bible, that they have studied and focused on in great detail, forming a certain view that may be different than most brethren and/or controversial. This almost always becomes an obsession with them to the point that they begin to force their views on others.
The Apostle Paul was careful to avoid being overly-focused on one point of the gospel to the neglect of the rest.
Act 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
Let’s use our strengths/virtues to the glory of God and guard against letting them become a stumbling block for us.
- John Smith