I’m going to start with a quote from G. K. Chesterton:
Chesterton must be read in small bites, because he packs so much in each sentence. In looking at our crazy world (which of course for him at the time of this writing was 1908), he was talking about how it was obvious that vices had been let loose. We might expect that in lives where Christ does not reign, but from this quote, he says virtues have also gone mad.
What makes a mad virtue or a virtue mad?
Just like we are supposed to live life in community (especially in relation to our community of Christ), virtues must be practiced in connection with one another. This is where Satan likes to get his hand in things. Not only is he separating marriages, families, churches, and communities, but he’s separating the things in life that are supposed to be virtuous and good.
Truth, for example, in isolation from love is hard-hearted and hurtful. Remember what Paul says about speaking the truth in love? (Ephesians 4:15).
Even love, in isolation from truth, becomes selfish, lustful, without thought. It becomes a love that allows sin because there are no sins to forgive.
Justice without mercy becomes vigilantism and a lust for power. Mercy without justice allows criminals to roam free and create havoc and chaos.
One of my late husband’s favorite verses is found in Psalm 85:10.
Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
He explained this verse by pointing at the cross he made which also held a scale. God cannot be all justice and all mercy in isolation — they meet in the cross of Christ. The cross alone satisfies the justice of God and allows for his mercy to be shown.
When you see your neighbor exhibiting one virtue without the other, introduce them to the One who can restore virtue to its proper place. Only in relationship with Christ, the source of all virtue, are we able to practice true virtuous living to His Glory.
Otherwise, it’s just a mad world run amok.