Common Sense Christian

The Thinking Christian’s Site

Daily Devotional – August 9

Virtue – Spiritual adolescence

I Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue

Aristotle defined virtue as: “Virtue (arete) then is a settled disposition of the mind determining the choice of actions and emotions, consisting essentially in the observance of the mean relative to us, this being determined by principle, that is, as the prudent man would determine it.” Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, II vi 15, translated H. Rackham (1934: Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press)

When the spiritually adolescent discover the notions of right and wrong, they do not often know one from the other, but there is often the desire to choose one over the other. 

  • The desire to do what is right is virtue,
  • the desire to do wrong is vice. 

The desire to do right does not always mean the right thing is done, but as a Christian develops they should have that desire. 

The desire to be virtuous.


August 9, 2006 - Posted by | Daily Devotional


  1. Jack, I love the way you are expanding these verses word by word (or phrase by phrase) making us reach deeper each day and struggle inwardly with each part. For me, this isn’t very conducive to dialogue (like your opinion on The Da Vinci Code or some other quasi-political issue was). These are calming, sobering devotions that make us look at who we really are and where we need growth, which is really between the individual and the Lord (and really more important than what we think of a book or a movie). Thanks.

    Comment by Helen Losse | August 9, 2006 | Reply

  2. I know, Helen! I promise after this series we’ll get into hotter topics. 🙂

    I think that in our churches today we lack insight into spiritual growth and its stages–we look at someone who is newly saved and think “Man, they are ON FIRE for God–they are such a mature Christian!”, when in all reality, they are babes in Christ with just the fire of virtue burning in their chest.

    As this progresses, the reader should be able to look at other Christians and themselves and recognize at what stage of spiritual development they are in, just as easily as we can look at someone physically and determine what developmental stage they are in. Of course, the purpose and application of this for Christians is how we deal with our fellow Christians. For example, we wouldn’t expect a baby to clean his nursery, we wouldn’t expect an adolescent to act responsibly if placed behind the wheel of a car, etc. And YET…as Christians we have these expectations and are guilty of these actions often! Some specific examples I remember are in a church where a young couple, newly come to Christ, were put in charge of a youth group. Another, I saw a young man beginning to grow spiritually crumble under the pressure of expectations from those around him, expectations of leadership that he was not spiritually mature enough to handle.

    Helen, I could go on with dozens of examples. The bottom line for us, though, is to spiritually nurture and rear other Christians in love just as we do children in the “real” world. There are many people who have contributed toward my physical and mental growth and maturity, there have also been many who have contributed and continue to contribute toward my spiritual growth and maturity.

    Please don’t hesitate to add anything you feel needful!

    Love in Christ,


    Comment by bereans | August 9, 2006 | Reply

  3. I guess the only thing I’d want to add is to the understanding of Aristotle’s definiton. Move over Aristotle, here comes Helen! 🙂

    It seems as though there is a difference between a “feeling” and an “emotion.” And while A. is right in that we choose our actions and our emotions, we do not choose our feelings. Actions and emotions are reactions to a feeling. No matter how much we grow in the Lord, we will always have to deal with our raw feelings.

    Comment by Helen Losse | August 9, 2006 | Reply

  4. Very true, Helen. One of the things that the growth of the spirit does is help us control our base nature and overcome weaknesses of the flesh.

    Romans 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

    Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

    Comment by bereans | August 9, 2006 | Reply

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