We have all been called to glorify the Father’s name, that we might be unto Yahweh a name, a praise and a glory (Jer 13:11). This statement comprehends our entire calling into the divine family of Almighty God, but such a calling brings with it a very serious obligation for each of us to uphold Yahweh’s principles in our life. We are not our own—we have been “bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:20). Therefore as children and servants of the Most High we are expected, to the best of our ability, to be “obedient children, not fashioning ourselves according to the former lusts in our ignorance” (1 Pet 1:14). We must therefore get our thinking right if we are to succeed in measure to glorify His name in harmony with the spirit.

The mind we all strive for is that of our Lord Jesus Christ, who always did the will of his Father. That mind is emphasised throughout Paul’s letter to the Philippians. This spirit-mindedness is mentioned in chapter 1:27; 2:2,5; 3:15,16. However it is with chapter 4 that we are particularly concerned at this time. In verse 7, the peace of God is shown to be able to generate a form of confidence and security, which keeps in check our hearts and minds as we follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul’s own example, which they had learned, received, heard and seen, encouraged them to seek for peace with God, despite constant trials to the contrary. Therefore his experience was something they could also share in if they so desired.

In verse 8, Paul lists six elevating topics to think upon and summarises the “whatsoevers” in two words by saying: “If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”. When applied to any situation which may arise in the everyday experiences of living, this thinking can assist us to determine what is the right thing to do. Then, having made the right choice, we can attain, in measure, the “peace of God” in our lives. The two words Paul uses are “virtue” and “praise”—that is, divine virtue and divine praise. These words are used as a benchmark and will determine the quality of truth, honesty, justice, purity, loveliness and honour which affects our lives in the Truth from day to day. Whilst “praise” honours the ways of God, “virtue” is a word which turns back towards ourselves and our response personally to God’s ways. “Virtue” in both Old and New Testaments literally means “power”. In the negative sense it can describe power in wrongdoers, but we are going to look at the word where the context shows it to be the power to do what is right in a Godly moral sense, the power of conviction and faith in Yahweh’s Word.

Add to Your Faith Virtue

The Greek word for “virtue” is aretē and according to Bullinger has the meaning of “superiority in every respect”. Vine comments: “whatever procures preeminent estimation for a person… blended with the impression made on others.”

The Hebrew word for “virtue” is chayil, which according to Strongs means “a force, whether of men, means, or other resources; an army, wealth, virtue, valour, strength.”

Virtue literally means, therefore, the power to do what is right in thought and action. We must therefore know what is right, before virtue, the doing of the right, is achieved. James summarises this positive virtue when he says: “Be ye doers of the word” (James 1:22).

The Greek word only occurs four times. One such is in 1 Peter 2:9 (mrg). Here we are told that we should “shew forth the virtues” of Him who has called us, by abstaining from fleshly lusts and equipping ourselves as a chosen generation to be kings, priests, holy and purchased, following the example of the Lord of virtue (v9, 21).

In 2 Peter 1:3 we see that our calling is associated with Yahweh’s “glory and virtue”. We are reminded that the power to do what is right is a major aspect of our calling, and in verse 5 “virtue” is the necessary development and outworking of faith. There is a special need for this today in view of the serious problems facing the ecclesial world, with falsehood, incorrect understanding, and wickedness openly manifested, and a failure to comprehend the nearness of the Lord’s return.

In Psalm 18:32,39 the Hebrew word for “virtue” is translated “strength” to shew its power and fit in with the context. The title “God” is the Hebrew word El and means “supreme power”: “It is El that girdeth me with strength.” The context therefore shows God to be the source and means of developing the virtue or moral power we all desire to manifest.

The Virtuous Woman

In Proverbs 31:10,29 the word is translated “virtue”, and once again the context magnifies its meaning. Here we see a mother, a wife—the mother of Solomon and wife of David. She is also a type of the true ecclesia, as was Sarah the mother of us all. However we must not lose sight of the fact that she was an individual, a unique person, such as all mothers and wives should be according to the apostle Paul (Tit 2:4,5). It takes moral power and conviction to do what Yahweh has ordained when all around there is scant regard for divine principles. Here we see virtue at work within the family and home.

The “virtuous woman” is compared to rubies because they are very valuable (v10). Although they are made of a common substance, aluminium oxide, they require a rare combination of heat, pressure, expert cutting and polishing in order to reveal their true beauty and value. It is not hard to see that these circumstances are provided in the everyday experiences in and around the home. She willingly seeks the elements of sacrificial covering, (wool) and righteous actions (linen) (v13). She works with these that her family and friends might have adequate covering in all seasons, winter and summer (Rev 19:8). All around her may be darkness and gloom, but she is light and sunshine to her household and others (v15). Her hands provide for those outside of family obligations, because she is observant and caring for others (v20). Her speech is seasoned with salt, wise and encouraging, not empty-headed gossip (v26). Her power to think and do that which is right (virtue) is not natural; it has been developed through the absorption of divine principles over a long period of time (v29,30).

Virtue in the Book of Ruth

Another example of virtue is found in the book of Ruth where our word has been translated in three different ways—“wealth” (2:1), “virtuous” (3:11), and “worthily” (4:11).

Boaz is described as “a mighty man of wealth”. Wealth is powerful, and can generate self-sufficiency, conceit and pride, but not in this man, for there was a greater power in control. He was willing to distribute, share, encourage, investigate and provide for the needs of those much lower on the social scale, seeing clearly what they really lacked.

Boaz is impressed and very moved by Ruth’s virtuous character and agrees to perform the duty of the near kinsman to redeem her, for he says: “All the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman” (3:11). In this incident we are shown a glimpse of Ruth’s moral virtue in chapter 3:14. Moabitish women had displayed great immorality, as the incident at Baal-peor showed (Num 25:1). Women, too, who slept around the cornfloor were particularly loose and void of virtue (Hos 9:1).

It was imperative therefore that Ruth gave none the opportunity to think evil of her. She knew that if her actions indicated wrongdoing of any kind she would be at fault for bringing the Truth into disrepute, and she avoided any such situation. Therefore the power of virtue compelled her to rise and leave Boaz before she could be seen, and Boaz, being likewise a man of virtue, endorsed and encouraged her action. This surely is the attitude we must all have, for we are commanded to avoid even the appearance of evil (1 Thess 5:22). Some may say it does not matter what others think, but that is not the spirit of virtue which we are trying to cultivate.

In 1 Samuel 2:4 our word is translated “strength”, but it is the strength of virtue. Here Hannah could have used legalism to justify her non-attendance at meetings because the law only stipulated that males must attend. But she was able to overcome through the power of virtue, even though at every attendance she was taunted, ridiculed, mocked and humiliated.

Our word is translated “able” in Exodus 18:21,25. These men chosen to assist Moses were men of virtue, chosen to be leaders and advisers in very difficult times. They were men who would not be corrupted or bribed, men whose respect for God and love of His truth caused them not merely to resist covetousness, but to hate it. Covetousness comes of pride and dissatisfaction; it encourages greed and is unjustifiable, being a form of idolatry. It is a common human failure and can only be overcome by the power of virtue (Col 3:5).

A Glorious Virtuous Community

In Psalm 110:3 our word has been translated “power”. When the Lord returns it will be the day of his power, the new millennial day. It will be the time at last when all those who have striven to live virtuous lives will be raised up together with him, and all who oppose the truth will be put under his feet and subdued worldwide. The Lord, once crucified through weakness, will now be exalted in power. He is coming back with the same character, the same virtue, and we will see him as he is. That is why we, with this hope, are trying to purify ourselves, even as he is pure. His resurrection was assured because he glorified his Father’s name. His obedience unto death likewise assured him of exaltation to glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life.

The saints will be the dew of his birth, (“youth” should be rendered “birth”). Dew is a very lovely illustration of our ultimate victory, for it is formed of tiny droplets of moisture developed during the darkness which later ascend and form clouds, lifted up by the power of the everlasting sun. It was the Lord’s morality, his virtue, that assured his resurrection to greater power. Therefore his example impels us to have the determination, with Yahweh’s help, to be like him in every possible way.

Brother Thomas in Eureka writes: “The Son’s Dew, born from the womb of the Dawn, are his brethren, the saints; born of the Spirit from the invisible at the dawn of Messiah’s day—the day of a thousand years. The resurrection is styled ‘thy birth,’ because ‘He, the Deity, who raised up the Lord Jesus, will raise up us also by Jesus’…The clouds of this Millennial Expanse are the sparkling dew drops of Yahweh exalted by His energy to place and power; and gathered together about him as glorious and towering masses, pregnant with ‘lightnings, and thunderings, and voices, and great hail’. The power of Deity in every particle of these clouds is the omnipotence of the apocalypse—Eternal Power invested with clouds of virtuous and heroic immortals” (Vol 1, p141,142). The exhortation is for us to become identified with the Lord’s death in order to be part of his resurrection, and this we are continually doing when we come together, week by week, to feast upon the memorials of bread and wine.

Let us all be motivated by the power of the Truth to be more virtuous in the days that lie ahead, and pray for the strength to succeed and encourage others likewise. The Lord Jesus was and still is a living manifestation of all these separate virtues we have been considering. May we all experience the moral power of virtue in our lives in order to think and do what honours Yahweh, and not that which is natural to us all and merely gratifies the flesh.