Virtue vs Vice

Teaching of Virtue

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Virtue vs Vice

Virtue enables you to know the good, do the good, and pursue the good in everything you think, say, and do—your every thought, word, and action. Doing the good and right thing one time is not a virtue, but rather a good deed. Virtue, then, is a habitual disposition to do the good and right thing (God’s will) every time, without exception. Simply put, virtues are good habits in the concrete.

Vices, then, are bad habits in the concrete. Avoiding the good, or doing what’s contrary to God’s will one time is a bad deed, avoiding the good or doing what’s contrary to God’s will consistently is a bad habit and therefore a vice.

An old Rwandan Proverb says, “You can outdistance that which is running after you, but not what is running inside you.” Meaning—

You can’t hide from the truth of who your habitual acts are shaping you to be, a soul being formed by virtue, or a soul being formed by vice.

To seek the will of God in all you do is the way of virtue. To seek the will of self is the way of vice. Thus, virtue pulls you toward God’s purpose for your life (fulfillment); vice pulls you away from God’s purpose for your life (emptiness).

Consider the virtues, the characteristics of Christ, which direct your every thought, word, and action to be in harmony with God’s will. There are many virtues and vices to learn, and to strengthen your intellect in them—is to light the way to be who God wills you to be.

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Related Scripture

“Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future.” — 1 Timothy 4:8 (GNTD)

"...It is what comes out of you that makes you unclean. For from the inside, from your heart, come the evil ideas which lead you to do immoral things, to rob, kill, commit adultery, be greedy, and do all sorts of evil things; deceit, indecency, jealousy, slander, pride, and folly—all these evil things come from inside you and make you unclean.” — Mark 7:20-23 (GNTD)

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.” — Proverbs 11:3 (ESV)

“Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.” — Proverbs 19:1 (ESV)

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” — 1 John 3:4 (ESV)

“As for you, my friends, you were called to be free. But do not let this freedom become an excuse for letting your physical desires control you…” — Galatians 5:13 (GNTD)

“But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing.” — 1 John 1:9 (GNTD)

“…let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us..” — Hebrews 12:1 (GNTD)

"I urge you, a life that measures up to the standard God set when he called you. Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another. Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds you together." — Ephesians 4:1-3 (GNTD)

“Everything you do or say, then, should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks through him to God the Father.” — Colossians 3:17 (GNTD)

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” — 1 Corinthians 9:27 (ESV)

Related Quotes

“Simply stated, virtues are good patterns or habits. It is a good deed when you help an elderly lady cross the street. It is not a virtue, it is a deed. However, if you are accustomed to helping the elderly at all times, then this habit is a “virtue.” Similarly, if you punch the old lady, you have committed a sin. Now then, if you fight and abuse old people all the time, you have acquired a “vice.” Virtues, then, are good patterns and vices are evil patterns. Just like jogging or lifting weights, the moral life gets easier and more powerful if you habituate your soul to doing good things.” — Dr. Taylor Marshall

“You can outdistance that which is running after you, but not what is running inside you.” — Rwandan Proverb

“Character is simply habit long continued.” — Plutarch

“Nature gives man corn but he must grind it; God gives man a will but he must make the right choices.” — Fulton J. Sheen

“It is easy to perform a good action, but not easy to acquire a settled habit of performing such actions.” — Aristotle

“Don’t let your sins turn into bad habits.” — St. Teresa of Avila

“Men’s natures are alike, it is their habits that carry them far apart.” — Confucius

“Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a man chooses and avoids.” — Aristotle

“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.” — Mahatma Gandhi

“Sow a thought, and you reap an act; sow an act, and you reap a habit; sow a habit, and you reap a character; sow a character, and you reap a destiny.” ― Samuel Smiles

“Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.” — Gautama Buddha

“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” ― Samuel Johnson

"Let virtue lead the way.” — Seneca

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Lesson Plan

For your family, small group, or personal reflection.

STEP 1: Introduction

Example: "I'm going to play a short video on the topic of virtue vs vice. After the video, I have some questions to gather your thoughts and get the discussion started. We’ll then wrap up with a closing prayer."

STEP 2: Watch Video (or listen)

Watch (or listen to) the video of the teaching (cast to your TV via YouTube). If time allows, also read the teaching, related Scriptures, and related quotes.

STEP 3: Discussion / Reflection

  • What is the difference between a virtue and a good deed?
  • Who are your habitual acts shaping you to be (one growing closer to God, staying the same, or growing further apart)?
  • What good habits/virtues would you like to develop? What bad habits/vices would you like to weed out?
  • Did any of the related Scriptures or quotes stand out to you (please elaborate)?
  • Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

STEP 4: Wrap Up & Closing Prayer

Summarize and wrap up the discussion. Then, conclude with a sincere and humble prayer from the heart.

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