valuable virtues


                                                                                                          December 31, 2008


                                                       “Valuable Virtues”


     Bernie Madoff!

      Just putting the name in front of people causes extreme reactions. Numerous celebrities have hit on hard times because of the money that was lost in the multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme.

      But worse then that is the billions that have been lost to charitable causes. Some of those causes directly assisted people who have been living below the poverty level.

      How does one look himself in the mirror knowing that his schemes will have a direct adverse effect on hundreds of thousands of people?

      I’ve been pondering that, not that I’m sinless. In fact, this whole Bernie Madoff situation has made me think about how many people have been affected by my schemes and selfishness.

     As persons of Jesus, what guides us towards “goodwill”? What detours me towards “my will”?

     As I study the person of Jesus I notice that his values flowed out of his virtues. He was just, hope-filled, loving, faithful, disciplined, among others. He knew who he was, what he believed, what his purpose was, and what his purpose wasn’t. He knew what he needed to do to be “on-mission”.

     How Jesus related to people, religious and irreligious, what he communicated, how he structured his time, what he saw as most important, all flowed out of his valuable virtues.

     What would you say Bernie Madoff’s virtues are?

     What would you say your virtues are? One of the definitions of “virtue” is “a worthy practice or ideal”. What would you say are your worthy practices and ideals? Put another way, “what do you practice that you also preach?”

     As we end a tumultuous year, it’s a question that needs to be front and face-to-face center for each one of us. If we are virtue-less, something else will fill in the space. Greed, lust, hatred, and jealousy have taken a number and are all waiting in line, like 5AM Black Friday shoppers at Wal-mart.

     It’s disturbing to know how Christians in general are viewed by the world, and characterized by the media. If you’re looking to do a composite drawing, mix in judgmental, mean, homophobic, condemning, and hysterical and you’ll come out with what “the picture” is. (This afternoon as I was driving home I got behind a pick-up truck that had this bumper sticker on the back window: “Bitter, gun-totin’, religious freak”. I kept a safe distance behind him.)

     I know…I know…it’s unfair, and yet in many cases accurate.

     How far removed from the worthy practices and ideals of Jesus!

     As a new year begins perhaps a personal deep look into the mirror of our soul needs to take place. Maybe a long gaze, looking for the ideals we reflect.

     Bernie Madoff is just another in a long procession of people and principalities whose roots had been planted in sandy soil. As the parable tells us, when our lives grow out of a shaky and shifting foundation something is bound to happen…and it usually isn’t for the common good!

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One Comment on “valuable virtues”

  1. JoeS Says:

    I used to think of myself as unselfish because I did not seem to need much attention or expensive “toys” in my life. In recent months, Iv’e come to understand that selfishness is more about refusal to make changes to habits and patterns in my life. Making those changes would be a loving and generous responce to others around me. The virtue of Jesus that stood out for me was “hope-filled”. I’m encouraged that hope is there for me and and to pass along.

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