A Closer Walk
Our Founding Father Benjamin Franklin came up with a list of things he called virtues that he desired to incorporate into his life and try to live by. The list, along with Mr. Franklin's thoughts about the various items in it, are as follows. 1. Temperance-eat not to dullness, drink not to elevation. 2. Silence-Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. 3. Order- Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. 4. Resolution-resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. 5. Frugality-make no expenses but to do good to others or yourself; waste nothing. 6. Industry-lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions. 7. Sincerity-use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly. 8. Justice-wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty. 9. Moderation-avoid extremes; forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve. 10. Cleanliness-tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes, or habitation. 11. Tranquility-be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. 12. Chastity-rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation. 13. Humility-imitate Jesus and Socrates.
The last virtue, humility, was added later because a friend once told Mr. Franklin that he sounded, acted, and sometimes came across as arrogant. All thirteen of these virtues are things each of us probably see as good things, and things to strive for. Mr. Franklin would choose a single item and work on that until he felt he had accomplished it, then he would move on to the next virtue. Alas, he discovered that when he quit focusing on a virtue he would begin to lose his mastery of it.
It's the same with us isn't it? We can get one sin, or one area of our life under control but then something else unravels. Why is that? "Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Indeed, has God said, “You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?” And the woman said to the serpent, 'From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die,'" Genesis 3:1-3 NASB. This passage is referred to as “The Fall of Man,” because prior to this there was no such thing as sin in the world. Adam and Eve gave in to the temptation the serpent was offering, and thus sin entered the world.
The remedy for our sin? “...if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved,” Romans 10:9 NASB. Saved from what? Saved from the wrath of God. Our God graciously and mercifully provided a remedy for our sin, thus saving us from His wrath. We refer to it as salvation because through the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ we have been saved from the punishment that is our due. Further, he not only paid for our sin, but made us His very own children. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,” John 1:12 NASB. Having made our confession of faith we become the children of Almighty God. Hallelujah! But, unfortunately, we still sin. We may say the wrong thing, or say the right thing but say it unkindly. We may do the wrong thing, or maybe even do something stupid (hopefully these occurrences are rare?). So our God provides a remedy for us His children as well. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” 1 John 1:9 NASB. Some believers refer to this verse in 1 John as “our bar of soap.” If we have dirtied ourselves with sin we use the command in this passage to clean ourselves up and return to a right relationship with our Lord.
Mr. Franklin's list of virtues are desirable things we could strive for and work toward. But our success at accomplishing any of those things is unlikely without the help, and forgiveness, of our God. Agreed?