FAITH IS CROWN AND MORAL EXCELLENCE FIRST JEWEL
St. Peter writes a few practical suggestions for Christian growth. Faith is the basic foundation on which the whole edifice of a Christian spiritual life is built upon. In fact, faith is like a crown decorated with seven jewels. The life journey of a disciple of Christ begins with faith. Indeed faith is a gracious gift of God. It is based on the knowledge revealed through the holy Scripture. The object of faith is the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is not possible to please God without faith. (Hebrews 11:6) Whatsoever that does not originate with faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)
Goodness or virtue or moral excellence is the natural divine quality that should be expressed in a Christian lifestyle. This is not an external appearance but an inner quality. In fact, St. Peter places virtue or moral excellence before knowledge. The world may prefer it the other way around. Moral excellence is beyond legal and courteous requirements. For example, as required by Law, Pharisees paid tithes but neglected justice, mercy, and love. (Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42)
For example, a person may not verbalize his thought about his brother. Outwardly, the person is courteous and respectful, but inwardly he harbors hatred and bitterness. Even the very attitude and thought of hatred towards his brother is sin. Moral excellence in thought and attitude is a mark of a Christian that could not be scrutinized by legal measurements and social niceties.