Why Cultivate Virtue?
A MIDDLE-AGED Japanese man named Kunihito recently migrated to the United States.* Within weeks after his arrival, he came face-to-face with a situation that could have damaged his career. Kunihito relates: “When my superior asked me if I could take on a certain responsibility, I felt quite confident about accepting it. Yet, having been brought up to view modesty as a virtue, I replied: ‘I am not sure if I can do it, but I will try my best.’ To my American supervisor, this sounded as if I was incompetent and lacked confidence. When I learned that, I realized I needed to make some adjustments.”
Maria, who lives in New York City, was an excellent student, always glad to help her classmates. Juan was a fellow student who occasionally enlisted Maria’s help. But he also took a romantic interest in her and tried to impress her. Despite her desire to remain morally chaste, Maria succumbed to Juan’s advances and became involved in sexual misconduct.
Displaying virtue in today’s culturally divergent and morally corrupt world is indeed a challenge. So why cultivate virtue? Because virtuous conduct pleases God, and most of us surely desire to have his favor.
God’s Word, the Bible, exhorts its readers to cultivate virtue. For example, the apostle Paul writes: “Whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.” (Philippians 4:8) And the apostle Peter urges us to put forth ‘earnest effort in supplying to our faith virtue.’ (2 Peter 1:5) But what is virtue? Can it be taught in a classroom? How may we cultivate it?
Some names have been changed.