Posts Tagged ‘moral excellence’

I think we know all this stuff about “doing good.” I mean, I think we know we are supposed to “do good” … we know we are supposed to act virtuously. We know we are supposed to take the “high road.” But we often don’t. Why not?

If it’s true that doing good helps us to “… never fall…” and “… receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” (II Peter 1: 10-11), then the converse is true… not doing good or just not choosing to do good, will lead us down a different path. I think, particularly in our culture, that we have become complacent. Many of us go about our every day … not necessarily doing “bad things” but also, not choosing good things either. We are dull. We are lukewarm. We are a bit lazy.

There is some energy required to move toward moral excellence. It takes effort to choose the better way. It’s a conscious choice. John Sandford speaks often of the “slumbering spirit” and I think this condition applies here as well. We must be wakeful and alert to the Holy Spirit. We must be wakeful and alert to opportunities in our daily walk. Look! Today, I expect to be challenged. I expect you will too.

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This idea of recognizing good in order to “do it” is discussed in the Pastor’s blog today. Since we may fail in identifying good from within, another way may to model our behavior based on observation of another.

Certainly, our greatest model is Christ. In II Timothy 1:13, Paul tells Timothy to model his behavior after him, “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.” During on of our bible study discussions, we talked about the people who were our first or stand-out examples of someone who walked out in authenticity as a Christian. These were people we can model after even today.

In acting school, we were taught many different kinds of acting styles, but generally, they all fall into two basic types, one is discovery of truth from within and the other is to create the outer appearance and behaviors and by doing so, discover truth. These two concepts can hold true here.

If you’re inner life and connection to Christ is not strong enough yet to guide you, then model your behaviors and choices on those whose journey reflects “moral excellence.”

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In order to “do good” or choose good over evil, one must first “recognize” what is good. That may seem obvious but I’m not so sure in today’s world that it is done so easily. The world has become quite complex and the “knowing” of what is good requires thoughtful and prayerful attention.

Certainly, the Word gives us a strong foundation for choosing good, but this element seems to fall under “knowledge” which is our 3rd step noted in our anchor verses, II Peter 1:3-10. Choosing the virtuous or excellently moral way comes first. So, if it is not based on our own knowledge, it must be rooted within and then tempered and fine-tuned with knowledge.

Let’s remember, the foundation was faith. If we have grounded ourselves in faith and communion and intimacy with the Lord, our ability to recognize “good” begins there. A key element then is hearing the Lord within our spirits. It is important to nurture that sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, our Teacher and Counselor, who is always speaking, whispering, and encouraging, “go this way, not that way.”

Touch the Spirit in prayer and the ability to identify and “choose good” grows from that seed of faith.

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More thoughts on moral excellence lead me to the inner self.

What is in your center? Every action, decision, or “doing of good” comes from within first, as a decision or idea. I believe moral excellence is a phrase that covers the “state of the heart” and manifests in doing good. Just “doing” without the right motive is “religiosity” and will eventually lead to a Martha mentality (a lot of anxiety, perfectionism, distraction, and “do-goodering”). See Wisdom Seekers on a Mary Heart.

Luke 6:43-45 says, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

Our morality or character is based on our ability to assess what is right and wrong, what is a good choice or bad choice in the moment and then act upon our assessment. For those choices to be excellent, we must be ‘pursue’ excellence. We must desire it.

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In the Pastor’s Blog on this topic, he speaks of virtue as that of “doing of good” or “moral excellence.” It is the “second step” from II Peter 1:3-7 for sustaining our faith.

It’s interesting to me that the Pastor’s discussion somewhat mirrors my most recent bible study posting on “Kitchen Service” (chapter 7 of “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World). We have also been looking at the importance of serving … but as an outgrowth of intimacy with Christ.

I would like to spend more time this week pondering “moral excellence” however. This definition does not speak so much to the “doing” as it does to the attitude or internal choice.

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