Not being well-read in the bible or the classics, I don’t recall how I first learned about the seven deadly sins and the seven heavenly virtues, but periodically I remember and think about each one, just to see how I (but also how our national leaders) are measuring up. Here is the list of the seven...
HUMILITY is the virtue to acquire. Modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. It is a spirit of self-examination and giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying one's own self.
2. GREED is a strong desire to gain more, especially in money or power. This quality may
lead to betrayal of others for personal gain. But also hoarders and thieves may exhibit this greedy quality.
CHARITY is the opposite and includes generosity and self-sacrifice; it’s not so much about benevolent giving but about practicing what is called “agape love”, in the sense of an unlimited loving kindness towards all others, including and beyond our family and close friends.
3. LUST may be viewed an an intense desire, hunger or need (and not necessarily about the sexual). It can show up as an obsessive or depraved thought. Lust can also appear when we are intensely wanting a particular outcome, and no other will satisfy us.
CHASTITY, opposite of lust, can mean abstaining from sexual conduct, but beyond this it encourages cleanliness through cultivated good health and hygiene, and refraining from intoxicants. This virtue embraces moral wholesomeness and achieving purity of thought through education and wanting to be better.
4. ENVY includes jealousy and malice, a resentment of others’ accomplishments and perhaps wishing others to fail or come to harm. At the root of thievery may be envy.
KINDNESS is the opposite virtue and includes compassion, cheerfulness, empathy and trust without prejudice or resentment, bias or spite.
5. GLUTTONY happens when we have an overindulgence in eating or drinking, an unreasonable consumption, more than is necessary. It can also mean thoughtless waste or a refusal to share. Substance abuse can be part of the sin of gluttony.
TEMPERANCE meaning restriction or restraint is the opposite of gluttony; By practicing self-control or abstention or moderation or deferred gratification we are put on a virtuous path.
6. WRATH is about feelings of hostility, anger, hatred, having an inappropriate unrighteous feeling of spitefulness, of revenge, of wishing evil or harm to come to others. This quality in extreme may be the root of assault and taking another’s life.
PATIENCE is the remedy...staying non-reactive while resolving conflicts and/or injustice peacefully, as opposed to resorting to violence. Forgiveness is necessary for mind/body/spirit good health.
7 SLOTH may be described as apathy, idleness and wastefulness of one’s time. Often called laziness, it can also show up as a lack of energy and not wanting to exert oneself. Sometimes sloth appears as cowardice or irresponsibility,
DILIGENCE counteracts sloth and includes a decisive work ethic, steadfastness, fortitude, and the capability of not giving up. Learning how to budget time and monitoring activities (like how much time is spent in front of a screen) helps to guard against laziness.
With all this information to think about on my past birthday I owned up to the two areas needing some more attention. Gluttony (as in over-eating) and sloth, appearing as procrastination, could definitely use some work. The good news is my patience has grown (“the virtue of patience is patience”) and through honest self-examination and seeing my own flaws, I have much more humility.
Assessing the sins and virtues may not be for everyone, but consider what Socrates had to say,
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”