There was a tightrope walker, who did incredible aerial feats. All over Paris, he would do tightrope acts at tremendously scary heights. Then he had succeeding acts in which he would do it blindfolded, then do it blindfolded while pushing a wheelbarrow across the tightrope.
An American promoter read about this in the papers and wrote a letter to the tightrope walker, saying, “Tightrope, I don’t believe you can do it, but I’m willing to make you an offer. For a very substantial sum of money, besides all your transportation fees, I would like to challenge you to do your act over Niagara Falls.”
Now Tightrope wrote back, “Sir, although I’ve never been to America or seen the Falls, I’d love to come.”
Well, after a lot of promotion and setting the whole thing up, many people came to see the event. Tightrope was to start on the Canadian side and come to the American side. Drums roll, and he comes across the rope which is suspended over the most treacherous part of the Falls — blindfolded! And he makes it across easily. The crowds go wild!! He comes to promoter and says, “Well, Mr. Promoter, now do you believe I can do it?”
“Well of course I do. I mean, I just saw you do it.”
“No,” said Tightrope, “do you really believe I can do it?”
“Well of course I do, you just did it.”
“No, no, no,” said Tightrope, “do you really believe I can do it?”
“Yes,” said Mr. Promoter, “I believe you can do it.”
“Good,” said Tightrope, “then you get in the wheelbarrow.”
The word believe, in Greek, means “to live by.” This is a nice story… makes you ask, how often do we say that we believe Jesus can do it, but refuse to get in the wheelbarrow?
According to Dictionary.com a synonymous phrase for “believe” is “have faith in.” is well known for defining faith for us. In the NKJV it reads:
(NKJV) — 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
But Carla recently came across a translation of the verse that really impacted her:
(NIV) — 1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
“Confidence” is a much stronger word and something we can relate to and understand.
But there is still a related action to faith that is required. We can’t just “say” we have faith. Our actions must, and ultimately will, define our faith. Like James says:
(NKJV) — 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
(NKJV) — 1 Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The term rendered "virtue" in the NKJV is the Greek “arete.” This word is not used but a few times in Scripture but it has a fascinating background.
In Classical times, it meant “that quality given by the gods which enabled mere mortal men to perform heroic deeds.” It came to mean the quality in a person’s life which made them stand-out as excellent. It is a term of moral heroism, moral courage, moral excellence.
We understand that morality is the defining of what is right and wrong. Arete is the courageous and, oft times, heroic decision to always do what is right. It is both to keep one’s self pure from wickedness and depravity AND to perform acts of righteousness. It is that which defines your character.
Since you have a relationship with God… be a person of character.
Your ideal is who you wish you were
Your reputation is who people say you are
Your character is who you really are
In the truest sense of the word, arete actually deals with the thought life.
There are several levels to the meaning of this word.
General intelligence — I used to work in banks. I remember hearing the story of a 22 year old man being arrested at a Wichita, Kansas airport hotel after he tried to pass two (counterfeit) $16 bills. He failed the general intelligence test.
I used to work in banks. I remember hearing the story of a 22 year old man being arrested at a Wichita, Kansas airport hotel after he tried to pass two (counterfeit) $16 bills. He failed the general intelligence test.
General Knowledge about Jesus
An academic understanding of Christianity
An understanding of the deeper things of Christianity
Moral wisdom which is seen in right living
(NKJV) — 6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
Do you want to add knowledge to your virtue? Wednesday night services and OSL classes are the most important times in the ministry of New Hope for adding knowledge. I strongly encourage you to make it a priority.
Strong’s Dictionary defines this as “the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, esp. his sensual appetites.”
We have bought into the lies of Satan where self-control is concerned.
I just can’t help myself — The devil made me do it!
Everyone else is doing it so I might as well — Lemmings syndrome
God wants me to be happy — God wants you to be filled with joy… He wants you to be righteous… He knows you’ll be much happier when you are living according to His guidelines
In the NT this is the characteristic of a person who is not swerved from his/her deliberate purpose and his/her loyalty to the faith by even the greatest trials and sufferings.
Charlie Brown is at bat. STRIKE THREE. He has struck out again and slumps over to the bench. “Rats! I’ll never be a big-league ball player. I just don’t have it! All my life I’ve dreamed of playing in the big-leagues, but I know I’ll never make it.”
Lucy turns to console him. “Charlie Brown, you’re thinking too far ahead. What you need to do is set yourself more immediate goals.”
He looks up. “Immediate goals?”
Lucy says, “Yes. Start with this next inning when you go out to pitch. See if you walk out to the mound without falling down!”
Hang in there… tie a knot in the end of your rope and hold on…TAKE THE HAND OF GOD AS A LITTLE CHILD TAKES THE HAND OF HIS/HER FATHER.
A spirit of reverence and respect to God in all matters. It understands that He is a Holy God. Not an outward compliance to certain rules, but inward purity of heart.
The Greek word is philadelphia from the word phileo. In the NT philadelphia has a highly specialized meaning that restricts the range of reference to fellow believers. So we are to love each other. Sounds familiar doesn’t it:
(NKJV) — 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(NKJV) — 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
(NKJV) — 9 But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more;
Agape The purest and highest form of love, seeking nothing in return and only the best for the other.
(NKJV) — 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love
(NKJV) — 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.