What I’m Thinking: Disregarded Virtues

Ephesians 4 recommends a series of virtuous behaviors to build up the community. Why is it that their opposites, the evils, gain more for those who do them than the virtues do?

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the fourth chapter of the Letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 4:25-5:2). It’s a list of recommended virtues or virtuous behaviors. One of them, of course, is truth. Another one is responsible and mature handling of anger. There’s honest work recommended here, the use of language that builds up and shares grace with all those around. These have been recommended virtues in many cultures for not just centuries but millennia.

So I ask myself: Why don’t these virtues always work in the societies in which we live?

If we’re honest, we recognize that lies and falsehood frequently bring rewards, that the most successful thieves are the ones who create laws that allow them to take what is not theirs, that in no way can they be said to have done honest work for it, and yet they gain that “reward.” I think we have to say that immature anger expressed in ways that are clearly beyond the bounds works quite nicely in getting other people to do what someone wants.

No, the simple truth is that most of the cultures of the world are not built upon these virtues, but these virtues are admired in their scarcity, sometimes even in their absence. Women can tell you that when they exercise these virtues, they are discounted. People of color can tell you that when they exercise these virtues, that they are ignored.

It is upon the powerful not just to recognize these virtues, not just to honor them with words, but to recognize them and honor them with practice so that they do, in fact, build up.

So once more, in echo of these ancient words, I call out to us all to follow their guidance, to build up a society that is worthy of people who follow these guidelines. Yes, indeed, might we indeed be imitators of God.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , , , | Posted on August 2, 2021

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1 Comment

  1. by Janet Fujioka

    On August 2, 2021

    A powerful message, indeed! We have been taught that Christ lives in each of us. What does it mean to represent Christ in our daily lives? I ask myself, “Do I display the qualities or virtue of Christ?”

    Perhaps, I should ask myself these questions routinely.

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