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In Search of Godly Virtue: Negative Polarity

March 5, 2014

I’ll admit everything that has gone on in my life the last few months has kept me busy enough that I haven’t been able to post at times. There’s also my perceptions of what is blog-worthy and what isn’t, which honestly enough is colored by what I’m about to write about. But there’s another thing that’s kept me from posting, as well.

In thinking on what this blog is about, it always comes back to one thing, something that probably keeps me from a good about page, since it’s so simply expressed:

Godly Virtue.

That idea, most noticeably voiced through the Scripture quoted in the by-line, along with the name of the blog, is something that’s urged me in my walk with Christ and my ministry efforts up to this time. It seems for some reason that I have a certain uneasiness and sometimes even an anger when I witness such things in my own life and around me. Then I pray and God grants me wisdom regarding why the uneasiness and anger exists.

I’ll admit, too, that I had a big scathing post in mind with the title “In Search of Godly Virtue” hitting most of the blogs that I read for one reason or another. Something not Christian from a “Christian blog”. Posts that are feminist-leaning from supposedly anti-feminist manosphere blogs. Posts that are both anti and pro an issue. The general avocation of Game that gets more and more grating on me from a Christian standpoint. I know from the Spirit and my prior sin that saying too much the times I get angry really isn’t productive for a number of reasons, most notably it can tend to temptation to words that are counterproductive. As it is written, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:” (Ephesians 4:26).

Of course, the big danger is bitterness, and more over a lack of love, which leads to a lack of recognition of mercy and grace. As it is written:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. (1 Corinthians 13:1-8)

I find it interesting that the KJV uses the word “charity” there as a translation for the Greek word “agape”, as it perhaps encompasses the matter much better than simply using the word “love” as most modern translations do. Language is lost on the word as we confine it to terms of physical giving today, but if we dig into the definitions, we can find that charity and bitterness are opposites (we can also use the words “kindness” and “animosity” there). Quoting Webster’s Dictionary of 1828:

Charity (n): Candor; liberality in judging of men and their actions; a disposition which inclines men to think and judge favorably, and to put the best construction on words and actions which the case will admit. The highest exercise of charity, is charity towards the uncharitable.

bitterness (n): . In a figurative sense, extreme enmity, grudge, hatred; or rather an excessive degree or implacableness of passions and emotions; as the bitterness of anger. Eph 4.

People can have this tendency to be positive and see the good in people, or see the negative and evil in people. I observe continually in my writing about Churchianity that people can swing so far to looking for good in themselves that they cease to see the evil out there that the Lord very much wants us to repent of in life and stand against. This almost always occurs in the person of the Personal Jesus. Be mindful of 1 Corinthians 13:6 – “[Charity] Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;” Love without God’s truth is no love at all – this is missed by many who run to this Scripture.

However, I find in myself a certain pessimism that seems to pervade everything, seeing the bad in all things and all people to the point that the good is very hard to see. I’m very hard on myself, to the point that it can be hard for me to see good in me or good in the things I’ve done, to the point that I’ve offended people who have tried to compliment me. It tends to lead to a certain drive for perfection, where I’ve probably passed on writing many things that would be received well. Of course, I know I probably beat myself up for things that are acceptable and good.

One thing I’ve witnessed over the last two weeks in person in my Bible studies is the same thing I’ve witnessed in myself in this blog and in myself, which lead me to rebuke it with some anger (albeit quite correctly, given the peace in my conscience and the Spirit giving me all of this). It seems I can observe as well that like seems to attract like in these regard, and in that sense I’ll probably have to seriously pray about the company I keep, for it is written “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”. It seems people are whatever way they are for the people growing up around them or how their circumstances shape them in the absence of willful resistance. That willful resistance seems necessary, as it is written:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Most of this is stream of consciousness, and not as well thought out as I would like, but I pray that I can learn to accept less than perfect. I’m not perfect, and no one else is perfect, for only one Person has walked the earth that was perfect, for we are told that “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23). We continue and get by with the grace and mercy of Christ alone, and we are told to recognize those things. For:

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (Matthew 7:1-2)

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15)

It is good to be mindful of these things when dealing with other people. What angered me more about this person was the lack of mercy expressed in the standards they described. All I could say at the time before the Lord is “may his exact words be used against him.”

I am thankful that the Lord has graced me by working on my heart in this matter. I praise Him for His goodness in helping me to be thankful for what I do have. The Lord’s grace and mercy abounds, though. I can tell myself a lot of times now to remember that the Lord is long-suffering, and it turns into a praise. Praise be that He is so much more long-suffering and merciful than me! And I definitely pray that He may teach me to be able to see the good things in people, that He encourages me with the good He has put in me, and that I may not lose sight of the truth. While there is no love without truth, the truth is useless if it is in hate, especially if it is without recognition of the failings of self.

While there’s some confession, some prayer, some teaching, a hodge-podge of things, and more personal than I really intended this blog to be, I was prompted to post it in the sense that there are people that have swung too far in both directions regarding their polarity. I pray it be edifying and convicting (if need be), as I pray all of the things written on this blog have been, albeit as imperfect as it is. I hope that I may be able to continue the journey of seeking Godly virtue on this blog soon, and thanks for all the comments, and well-wishes that have been offered.

  1. Honestly, all of us need criticism to know if we are off track (2 Tim 3).

    Men should be calling out other men and women for poor/rude/sinful behavior, teaching, writing, and whatever else. That is the least Christians can do for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ (Matt 18, 1 Cor 5).

    The key is doing it with humility, kindness, and goodness through the working of the Spirit. That is indeed hard at times.

  2. Perhaps you need to spend less time looking at yourself–at what you do and fail to do.
    You might find it helpful to spend more time looking to see what God is doing in and for your life.
    I know that God blesses me much more often than I notice.

  3. I really liked this post, thank you for it. I read it yesterday, and it has stayed on my mind as I have also been thinking the same things.

    Please do not be so hard on yourself, you have been through a very difficult time, and it is understandable how you have been feeling/thinking.

    All of us get bitter sometimes, and it is understandable why, but in my opinion bitterness is from Satan. He tempts us with bitterness which then hardens our hearts, and instead of finding the good, our eyes see only the bad. That is what Satan wants. The more we resist the bad feelings, the more God makes grants us understanding and wisdom.
    I read something from an Elder Monk that said when we are bitter, or sad, or angry, we just must pray to God that He will have mercy on those who have made us feel that way. It is also very helpful to try to always repeat the Jesus prayer silently in your head, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me, a sinner”. This helps to keep us in a state of humility, and keeps us mindful of our own need for His mercy, there fore helping us understand how much we also need to be merciful and loving to everybody else.

    I don’t believe the word Love adequately describes Agape. Because love is overused, in the way that people say I “LOVE” this, about something. Where as Agape is the highest form of love, it is the foundation on which all else good is built. God IS Love. ( ὁ θεòς ἀγάπη ἐστίν).
    I am overjoyed for you that God has blessed you, working on your heart in this way. We must remember we are not perfect, sometimes we really have to fight the natural inclination to be bitter and angry, but God will bless us and help us in this. Just like He is helping you.

    Have a blessed Lent.

  4. Excellent points

  5. Neitherkelter permalink

    I share your sentiment that the realization/documentation of our degraded society and culture has a corrosive effect on one’s soul. Slowly, I came to realize that I seem to have lost the joy and generosity of the soul that I had.

    Seeing things for what they are, and not what they pretend to be, whether it is our society and culture or chuchianity leaves one cynical, disoriented and corroded in the soul. We become more exacting, judgmental and selective of the world in a way that is self-destructive, though we may want them to be better, it is far easier to blame than to change and be a better follower of Jesus.

    Take heart that Jesus and our God is indeed far more forgiving and long-suffering than we can possibly be. Imagine Jesus walking this depraved Earth and seeing what we do, and his charity and love can only humble you.

    Kind Regards

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Nature of Genuine Manhood: Every Christian’s Battle | The Society of Phineas
  2. I Locked My Keys In My Truck…And It Was A Blessed Day! | The Society of Phineas
  3. Christian Love Is Hard | The Society of Phineas

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