Photo by Coda2 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Why are you honest? Why are you considerate of others? Why do you practice virtue of any kind? The great American thinker Jonathan Edwards proposed that there are actually two kinds of virtue. The first is common virtue. He said that people practice common virtue out of fear and pride. So for example, often times people are honest either because they are afraid of being caught in dishonesty, or they are proud, or they want to be known as an honest man or woman. This is common virtue. But, Edwards said that there is also true virtue. True virtue only happens when you are virtuous – not out of fear and pride, but because you see the beauty of honesty, generosity, or patience. Edwards goes on to say that you can only be truly virtuous when you know the creator of virtue, the guide of virtue. In other words, you can only truly love virtue when you truly love God. So what is the motivation for your virtue? Fear and Pride, or love for God?
I’m Jason Dees, encouraging you to think through it.