I want to encourage us to think of virtues before we consider values. It is right for us as community leaders, especially of young people, to be shaping character and therefore emphasising virtues. But why, how and for what purpose?

We need to appreciate the two necessary components of developing character.

Firstly, the grace of God and secondly, human action.

Peter firstly highlights God’s grace and initiative as follows:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and *excellence (virtue/power), by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the Divine nature… [1] (*note excellence can be translated virtue and power – His very character)

So, it’s clear our knowledge of God, our restoration to His likeness, our sharing in His Divine nature are a consequence of His grace and His promises. . . all by Him!

Peter follows this directly with a call to human action:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ… [2]

Peter goes on to say that if we “practice these qualities, we will never fall.” It is important to note that faith informs virtue and all the other attributes listed here supplement or support virtue.

So, Peter makes it clear that there is an effort to be made; an earnest desire and striving to grow and to develop God-honouring character. We can conclude that Grace does not cause us to lie around simply waiting for God to develop our character but, in fact, Grace motivates us to desire, seek and work towards that character revealed in Christ.

Before we continue, we need to try to define what we mean by “virtue”.

“Virtues find their origin in God the Father, their expression in the person of Christ and their enabling by the Spirit.”

How does that help us? More next week.


[1] 2 Peter 1:3-4

[2] 2 Peter 1:5-8