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Let your focus be on virtues, not sin


By Pastor Stephen A. Curry

This week, I will be starting a series of sermons on The Seven Cardinal Virtues. As I have shared my sermon plans, several people have commented that they have never heard of The Seven Cardinal Virtues. Almost all, however, have heard of The Seven Deadly Sins. The two lists were developed side-by-side by Christian theologians in the 5th century and one is the opposite of the other. The lists are guides to help us live good, decent, honest lives. They help us follow in the footsteps of Christ. Neither list is a doctrine or creed of the church.

I find it interesting (and a bit disheartening) that more people seem to be aware of The Seven Deadly Sins than The Seven Cardinal Virtues. One of the reasons God became incarnate in Jesus was to set a positive example of how we are to live. The two commands Jesus cited as the basis of all other teachings loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves are things God wants us to do. The teachings of Jesus center on “thou shallé”, not “thou shalt noté”. The problem with focusing on what to avoid (The Sins) is that they do not help us become who we are meant to be. If someone asks you where you are and you respond “not Dallas,” that answer may be accurate but it is far from useful. The Seven Cardinal Virtues give us a goal to achieve, a target to aim toward.

Virtue is a word rarely used. Webster defines virtue as being of “high moral character” and morality is a topic of contention in our society. We debate what is and is not a virtue and who gets to decide. We struggle with the balance between our personal morality and the morality expected of us or imposed upon us by others. We are sensitive to criticisms of arrogance, self-righteousness, and hypocrisy. We are left wondering what it means to live a virtuous life and even if it is worth it.

But Jesus led a virtuous life. And, as disciples, we are called to imitate the master. We are called to “Be perfect, therefore, even as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Not because it makes us any better than anyone else but because it brings peace and joy to our souls. Virtue is also how we bring other souls to the joy, peace, and love of the Kingdom of God. We will stumble from time to time that is why we need the forgiveness offered to us at the cross. But still we are to do our best to strive to live good, decent, honest, virtuous lives.

Currently and running through Sunday, Oct. 19, we will be learning about the Seven Cardinal Virtues: Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Chastity, Kindness, and Humility. You are welcome to join us at our 8:30 a.m. service, which follows the traditional pattern of worship or our 11 a.m. service in a more informal setting. Our Sunday school hour begins at 9:45 a.m. and includes a light breakfast for the kids so it is one less thing parents have to do on Sunday morning. We are located on F.M. 775 across from the Junior High School.

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