INTRODUCTION TO VIRTUE:
THE POWER OF SUPPLEMENTS
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge”
// 2 Peter 1:5
Everyone has a reason for adding supplements to their diets. Some add them in order to make up gaps in their dietary nutrition, others because it’s doctor’s orders, others because they are huge believers in packing in every supplement that Rite-Aid sells, and still others with a goal toward moving into some idealized health. There are always reasons. Just as a “supplement believer” has their reasons, so we must understand Peter’s reasons for showing us how to supplement our lives with all that he enumerates in this passage.
Peter is communicating what we need in order to become “partakers in the divine nature and to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust [strong desires]” [2 Peter 1:3-4]. His point is simple: if we want to put on the divine nature, lose our carnality and worship in spirit and truth, then we need to add into our lives these divine attributes. For it is these attributes that make us true disciples — followers of the One who leads us toward the Father, and the worshipers He has been looking for!
So why do we add virtue to our faith? What is the benefit? The word for ‘virtue’ that Peter uses here in the Greek can mean “virtue, goodness, moral excellence, and praiseworthiness.” We add this wonderful attribute of God to our lives for one purpose: to stabilize our faith. When we wrestle with the opposite of virtue in some area of our lives, this wrestling makes our faith walk rather rocky. The Lord’s answer is to add virtue — moral excellence and goodness — to our walk so that it becomes worthy of His praise, in His eyes.
In other words, the answer to a weak, struggling, or unstable walk of faith is not to get rid of the thing with which we struggle, so that we have a void in our lives [this never works]. Rather, we need eyes to see that the Holy Spirit comes along to add to our struggling faith the very thing our faith needs to become stable. He supplements our faith with the virtues and goodness we need to secure our faith in that area of our lives. He is looking to add to us what we are lacking, so that we can both become praiseworthy in His eyes [“well done, good and faithful servant” Matthew 25:23] and so that we can praise Him for His generosity to add to our lives the goodness of His that we need.
In short, struggles are good — they open our eyes to see that God has a gift for each of us, to supplement our lives in the place of our struggle. Right then and there a gift of virtue is being presented to us by the Father, through the Spirit, and along with it the opportunity to become more Christlike. Now that is cause to praise Him!
// Samuel Nicolosi