In a secular society, citizens often do not regard the development of virtue as vital to their personal lives. When one lives in an age without an absolute standard of what is just and unjust, he will treat his principles like his eggs: scrambled. In our nation’s search for goodness apart from God, we have relegated a man’s character to a ceremonial status, possessing no teeth in our broader culture.
Most seem to agree that “standing up for what you believe in” and “holding to your values” remains important in a post-modern age, yet no one can seem to agree on what exact values we should hold to and practice. Moral relativism has left a vacuum of untapped virtue that only the Gospel can fill.
The Good News begins with salvation by grace and leaves plenty of room for improvement. As new creatures in Christ, we are not merely cleansed from our sins but also convicted by the Holy Spirit to pursue holiness—something our decadent society is in dire need of.
However, some Christians will ask, “But why should I pursue virtue when I am guaranteed to fail?” It’s an important question in an age of hyper-grace theology, and dedication to character building is a task often maligned in many churches today. It’s my aim to describe why tending to the structural integrity of one’s character is vital in a secular age.
It’s Cultivation, not Perfection We Seek
Walking worthy of your kingdom calling does not require perfection; instead, it requires dedication. When someone tends to a garden, she inevitably realizes weeds will sprout, but that does not discourage her from growing and nurturing her plants. When we partner with the Holy Spirit, he will guide us in what is the truth.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22-23
As we can see, the cultivating the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is not optional, whether we are intimidated or not. If we want to spread the Gospel’s Good News, let us also spread the evidence to ourselves as well as those around us. What I mean is, our testimony does not merely reside atop the circumstances of our redemption. Rather, the continued work of the Spirit in our lives testifies to the good work that God is bringing into completion within us.
Abiding in Christ Brings a Hunger for Holiness
Though our righteousness is like filthy rags, God has lavished His grace upon us, and as a result, we are righteous in His sight by the blood of Jesus. Part of abiding in Christ’s presence through meditating on Scripture and prayer is walking away a changed man or woman.
Knowing this, we are not solely consumers of Christ’s love, but producers of it, along with the other fruit. If we are to be the royal priesthood and holy nation described in 1 Peter 2:9, then we Christians must not be intimidated to take ownership of our faith and partner with the Holy Spirit to run a daily diagnostic on our hearts.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” -Philippians 4:8
Philippians 4:8 is our comprehensive guide to contemplation. Desire holiness? Spit shine your mind with the daily discipleship of your thought life. What you think will eventually spill out, so press forward into the character of Christ.
Don’t Take the Kind Man for a Fool
I’ve noticed in my interactions that quite a number of people take kindness as weakness and integrity as some sort of outward fraudulence. They think that because Christians show compassion, they are somehow whitewashing the ugly world around them. Quite the opposite, Jesus commands us to live a life according to this paradox:
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” -Matthew 10:16
Thus, real virtue is displayed by those who carry onward in good character despite full well experiencing the reprobation of the world. To those in the world, evil is the norm and good is abnormal, so it can be tempting to carry on. However, let us not grow weary in doing good, for our righteousness has been brought to us by God’s grace and funded by the blood of Jesus. That’s reason enough to remain steadfast!
Kevin Cochrane is a nineteen year old writer with the distinct purpose of radically restoring everyone with exposed ears to the original testimony of Jesus Christ. Want to read more? Check him out at themajestysmen.com/author/kevincochrane, a friendship and mentoring community for Christian males. For updates on his latest blog posts here at restandrefuge.wordpress.com, you can follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to receive notifications by email. To contact, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.