Meaning Well—Repost from my Facebook


16. Jan. 2012, 19:24

I'd like to know something. When, exactly, did "meaning well" become enough?

Christians today seem to have decided that as long as our intentions (in the vaguest meaning of the word) are pure, there is no need to do more. In essence, we seem to believe that as long as we do nothing, we have not sinned. It doesn't matter if we're only self-seeking and make poor decisions; as long as our "hearts are in the right place", we're good with God.

For the past few months, I've noticed a common theme in things I've read and seen: the four Greek (cardinal) virtues. Fortitude, justice, temperance, and prudence. While these are not specifically Christian virtues, as the philosophy on which they are based predates Christ's coming to Earth, the Church of earlier times adopted them. Certainly we can agree that these virtues are supported in the Bible. It's rare that you could find someone who would disagree with justice, courage, or moderation.

What about prudence, though? Lately, that word hasn't had the best reputation. According to Webster's, it means: "the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason; sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs; skill and good judgment in the use of resources; caution or circumspection as to danger or risk". We tend to only associate it with this last definition of "caution", but the word was originally used in a much broader sense.

Even I begin to feel uneasy at this. We're no longer used to thinking of prudence (that is, of ability, shrewdness, good judgment, common sense) as virtuous. Nowadays we're even a little iffy on hard work (part of another set of virtues, known as the seven heavenly virtues). These seem like worldly things, in some strange way.

Christianity is not merely a religion of the heart. We're not meant to just allow our hearts and inmost being to commune with Jesus, while the rest of us remains "our own". Just as we dedicate our bodies to God (chastity), so we must dedicate our minds to Him. Has it really been so long since Thomas Aquinas placed prudence as the very highest cardinal virtue? We need prudence to be able to perform our God-given functions rightly. Without it, how can we keep the other virtues in check?

Without common sense, how can we remain restrained, strong, and just? Why is it that we think as long as we know in our hearts that Jesus loves us that we can get away with poor decisions? That's not what He wants for us.

The last thing I want to do is to sound like I don't think faith, hope, and love are important. Naturally, they are, and I don't doubt that we all need to perfect ourselves in them. I only wonder why we find it so easy to at least profess these virtues while we reject the importance of wisdom and reason?

Solomon asked for a "wise and discerning heart" (NIV), and this was pleasing to God. Just because we're not all kings doesn't mean it isn't important for us to train ourselves in the sense and wisdom of the Bible. How many times are wisdom, understanding, and discretion mentioned in the Proverbs? Simply because we have a different sort of wisdom than the world doesn't mean that we should ignore these verses.

Yes, God wants us to be ever-loving, ever-hopeful, and ever-faithful. Reason (in the sense used in the Bible) does not conflict with this objective, for he also wants us to be effective disciples. It's not enough for us to sit around, refusing to do what we're called to do because it's too hard, or others could do it better, or we just aren't smart enough for it. The Bible feeds our minds as well as our souls. We have to do more than "mean well", we have to do well. We must produce good fruit or we will be cut down and thrown into the fire.


  • ameliaroush15

    This is just incredible! I whole-heartedly agreed with the first sentence and found myself agreeing more and more with each word. You really have clarified and illuminated a difficulty the world has been struggling with for a long time. And provided the perfect solution. "Come let us reason together..." - Isaiah 1:18. God really does want us to love Him with all our hearts, souls and minds. :)

    16. Jan. 2012, 20:13
  • Mixora

    Thank you! It was really weighing heavily on my heart and mind the other day, and I realized today I should post it on as well as facebook:)

    17. Jan. 2012, 0:27
  • johnTMcNeill

    Thank you for the depth, the maturity, the discipline, and the courage it took to put this out there. You just never know where it might land...

    7. Feb. 2012, 6:11
  • Mixora

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

    9. Feb. 2012, 16:16
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