And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable,
and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
In the King James and New King James versions, that practically extinct word virtuous is used instead of "excellent." Virtue is probably a more true word to the Greek because of its deep indication of instrinsic morality. I am desperate to see a virtuous person in the public arena today.
Why do we hardly even think of virtue today?
What happens if the meaning is even lost to us?
Virtue in Jesus’ day pointed to moral excellence – as in modesty, honesty, or purity – but it was more than just a line of thinking. It was a totality, a consistency of the entire life in morality – thought, feeling and action. I know we need those models today. We need those people who live their lives committed to an internal truth, a moral compass! If we cannot see them in the public square, I bet you have a few who lived a virtuous life in your own history. Our children are in desperate need of them. The rest of us, too!
Where can we see virtuous people today?
Would we know virtue if we saw it?
I think we would be tempted to call such a person rigid or intolerant and unchanging, as if it is negative. The truth is that virtue makes its greatest demands on the individual who wants to live virtuously. Its purposes are only fueled by a deep love of the things of God and not any grandstanding or self-acclamation. Rather, its gains stand in stark contrast to the world because it is always bathed in humility, that grandest of virtues.