Editorial: Virtue or Violence

The Lord Jesus said, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt 24:37). A dual description is given of the days of Noah in Genesis 6:11, “The earth also was (1) corrupt before God, and the earth was (2) filled with violence.” The absence of purity and the presence of violence have truly “filled” the world. Scarcely a day passes without news of another story of violence against men, women, and children. It is called road rage, boat rage, baseball, and domestic rage, but whatever the cause, we live in a world where many people are filled with anger that too often results in violence.

The word in Scripture that is the very opposite of violence and vice is virtue. Boaz said of Ruth, “All the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman” (Ruth 3:11). The wise king asked, “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies” (Prov 31:10). When the woman touched the hem of His garment the Lord said, “I perceive that virtue is gone out of me” (Luke 8:46).

Greek philosophers originally used virtue to describe moral excellence, but it became a covering term for excellence in any field of endeavor, whether it was the courage of a soldier, the prowess of an athlete, or the ability of a painter. Perhaps this use in the Greek world explains why it is seldom used in the New Testament. Paul uses it once, “…whatsoever things are lovely if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil 4:8).

Peter uses it as the extreme opposite of the “corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet 1:4). “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Pet 1:3). The more we grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus (2 Pet 3:18), the more we will manifest His own glory and virtue. “Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge” (v 5).

I recently was deeply impressed with the great contrast between the vice and violence of the world and the virtue of Christ which I saw in a group of 80, mostly young believers in Fort Wayne, Indiana, engaged in giving out 44,000 Seed Sower gospel texts. Their behavior toward one another and their love and labor for the souls of the lost was a powerful illustration of true virtue. Tim and Eunice McCauley, and their helpers work with young Christians in wonderful harmony. They have rules, and from what I have seen at Fort Wayne and other locations where the Seed Sowers have worked, the rules are followed and the behavior is the kind of excellence that is the true sense of virtue. The organizing, feeding, and directing of a group like this is a task that few could manage, but the McCauleys are eminently suited to the task. We ought to support by our prayers and sacrifice this work that God has been pleased to use as a means of initially reaching people for Christ. Hopeful cases are followed up with the purpose of getting them to hear the “preached Word”.