Wednesday, February 9, 2011


In about 1730, Benjamin Franklin made a list.  He was in his twenties at the time and this list has famously become known as "Benjamin Franklin's Thirteen Virtues."  He thought about 13 virtues that he felt all men ought to have and try their hardest to live by.  He would pick one virtue a day or week and try to practice it until perfection.  Of course, he wasn't perfect and i'm sure it taught him a lot about himself and mankind in the process.  Those virtues are noted and broken down into two areas as:


The eight personal virtues relate to your attitudes toward activities and their challenges. Good personal character traits will better your chances of success in achieving your goals.
Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
Moderation: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
Industry: Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.


These five social virtues that Franklin stated concern your attitudes toward people with whom you have dealings. Good social character traits result in other people wanting to do business with you or to have relationships with you.
Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.  

What I find interesting in Benjamin's pursuit of personal virtue is that the final notes Jesus.  Benjamin Franklin was not a Christian but understood people's need to follow religion, however, it is kind of cool that aside from his non-prescribed thoughts on religion he still saw Jesus as an example.  I would encourage you to think about virtues this week.  Sure, we have the ten commandments and that's a place to start, being the rules and groundwork that God gave to Moses to use to help guide people, but let's concentrate that down.  Do not murder.  Well, I assume a lot of you have never killed anybody and never will, but have you ever thought mean or hateful things about a stranger or somebody you know?  Start with that.  Make a list of things you would like to work on and focus on one a day, or one a week, and practice it until it comes naturally.  You will be surprised at the process that goes on when you take the time to really think and focus yourself with a goal.  Write it on sticky notes,remind yourself, have a friend help you or come up with a list and do it together.  Pray about where your life day to day might need a little work and get to it.  

 Interestingly, this list is similar to the one the Apostle Paul gives us in Philippians 4:8-9, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.” 

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