There’s a virtue buried deep within the vices that we love. Good needs and virtues are often twisted into something more or less than it should be.
God gave you desires and these good gifts get twisted and distorted and buried in the vice. Embedded in the worst of things is a remnant of the best of things (Meyers, Virtue in the Vice). In fact, the vices we love are really God’s good gifts with a twist.
Embedded in pride is the gift of worthiness. You have been created by God and this gives your life intrinsic value. But don’t start believing that you are God. God never intended for you to be God; that’s worthiness with a twist. So many bow down to the God of “Me”, with the ultimate expression of idolatry being atheism. I don’t want God to exist because I am god over my life.
Embedded in envy is the gift of emulation. It is good to imitate a good example. God has especially gifted others to show us the way. But it isn’t good to dislike God’s goodness to someone else and dismiss God’s goodness to me (Ortberg, Love Beyond… 157). Emulation has morphed into envy when that happens. Celebrity worship and the pedestal complex, where we pore over the minutae of the lives of others, breeds discontentment;this need for emulation turns into envy.
Embedded in anger is the gift of passion, a motivation to do something. We’ve all read stories where little, senior ladies lift cars off of trapped people. Anger mixed with fear had something to do with that. We’ve also heard about motorists who kill another motorist for cutting them off in traffic. When we sullenly replay the agitating events of life over and over in our minds…and lash out in some overt act of violence, then it is logical to assume that our God-given passion for justice has mutated into revenge and even rebellion.
Embedded in sloth is the gift of contentment. But contentment with a twist, morphs into a lack of motivation to do anything because my life really doesn’t matter or count for much, or so we think.
Embedded in lust is the gift of intimacy. God has given us each other to be open and vulnerable with, to love and to be loved, and to share our sexuality with another person with whom we will spend our lives. Our craving for intimacy can become so great that we throw off all restraints and totally give ourselves to the pursuit of the human body in consuming lust and we miss intimacy.
Embedded in gluttony is the gift of communion and nourishment. God has given us an appetite that we are to satisfy with food – preferably good food. But the craving for communion and nourishment can easily morph into eating for the wrong reasons in an attempt to satisfy a deeper soul hunger.
Embedded in greed is the gift of stewardship. God has blessed us with so many things to take care of and use for our enjoyment and His glory. But stewardship morphs into greed when we want to hoard these blessings, stockpile them, and pursue them to the exclusion of all else.
Are you feeling worthy or proud? Are you emulating good examples or envying others? Are you angry over the right things? Are you content? Do you know intimacy deeply, or do you settle for lust? Why do you eat what you eat? What are you doing with what you have?
Every New Year virtue you aspire to, comes with an Old Year twist. Watch out for the twists.