Virtue and Understanding Are Essential to Right Living
Both virtue and understanding are essential to right living, or righteous living. They are needed in meeting the daily problems of life that arise within us as well as in our relationships with others. We sincerely desire that our standards be correct, but none of us can choose aright unless we are guided by the Holy Spirit. It is hard to know the original cause or the final result of a decision influencing another. We may not know what trial or tribulation may have caused a neighbor to err. If we know, it is because we have ourselves experienced some similar tribulation. It is then that our standards are measured by Him who abides within our holy temple, and they fit perfectly with the Ideal within our less fortunate neighbor. We have no cause to find fault or condemn.
Virtue and understanding are the requisites for spiritual work. What we do not possess we cannot give. What we do not live we cannot teach others to live. Unless we are pure, how can we expect others to be pure? Our very words and acts condemn us. We must be and know before we can direct, or before we can rightly guide others who are seeking the safe harbor.
There is a desire in each of us to live better day by day. We wish to reach a certain goal. If we are choosing the highest, the best, we will not be satisfied with anything less. It is well for us to remember that the highest goal is not reached at a single bound, but step by step-here a little, there a little. It is encouraging to know that no good deed is lost, not even a good intention; but all are built within our very souls and will bear fruits, some thirty, some fifty and some a hundredfold. It is by deeds, righteous deeds, that we rise. "We climb to heaven leaning on the arm of a brother whom we have helped." (See 281-4.)
The Way to Virtue and Understanding
The way to virtue and understanding is through prayer and meditation. The approach to all understanding must come from a proper concept of our needs in the physical, the mental, and the spiritual phases of our lives. This is the approach of the Master Jesus.
Others may point the way, but have they the virtue and understanding of Him who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life"? He proclaimed no way except the one He, Himself, had trod. He so lived the way that He could say, "Follow me." The way is open to all.
We are moving along the path when we begin to see ourselves as others see us, when no unkind thought of our neighbor is allowed to lodge in our hearts, and when we seek earnestly to be pure in heart, pure in mind, pure in body, and pure in soul.
The way is straight and narrow, so narrow that we must have no will but the Father's, that we must have no purpose but to do His work, and that we must have no aim but to reach the Christ Consciousness. This leads to virtue and understanding. "Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."
"I have found the way. It is through divine love, and it is for all who desire it. I prayed seven years for divine love. It is a living thing within me, giving me strength to love those who have wronged me, giving me the sight to see good in those who would do evil. It is in me the heeding power. I give thanks that I now recognize the God within me who is helping me to express divine qualities."
If we would have virtue, then let us step out on faith-faith in the purity of self, faith in the perfection of our neighbor, and faith in the promises of God. Virtue is the reward of faith, and understanding is the reward of virtue. Through faith the veil is lifted and we can go within ourselves, within the holy of holies and be transformed into the image and likeness of the Son of God.
"I did not feel I had the necessary virtue for an upright life. After much thought and meditation, the words came to me, 'Faith is the chief cornerstone' This helped me, for I knew that I could exercise faith. I then began to give thanks that I, through faith in the Christ, had virtue, a cleansing of body, soul, and spirit. Understanding came to me."
We must have implicit faith in God and in His promises, if we would have the cleansing power of His Spirit manifesting in our lives. We must have full faith in our neighbor, if we hope to be as pure as we demand him or her to be. We must have more faith in ourselves and in the power of the Spirit ever ready to manifest in and through us, if we expect to do our greatest work. Unless we have faith, how can we expect to see the glories of God? One that doubts is condemned. It is only through faith that we are justified, for belief in God is counted unto us for righteousness.