Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived. -- Deut. 11:16
We are often warned to watch our weak points; but we need as well to watch our strong points. There is always the possibility of danger lurking even in our good. Our best qualities may become perverted into abnormalities. Our virtues may be run to extremes and become vices.
There are vices which come from an evil nature; but there are also vices which originate in the very goodness of the soul. Amiability and openness of nature are characteristics we all admire, but we often see these very characteristics lead men to do weak and wrong things. Generosity is a noble virtue, but there is such a thing as being generous to a fault.
An example of this is the man who gives promises in advance of his ability, not from any lack of principle, but just because the warm impulse of the moment is too strong for him. Other examples might be cited, showing how every virtue may be exaggerated to a fault. Liberality may be exaggerated into prodigality; mercy, into weakness; firmness, into obstinacy; gravity, into severity; tolerance, into feeble conviction; humility, into abjectness; self-respect, into pride of heart; courage, into foolhardiness.
Some people's goodness is like a wart or wen; it takes the form of an abnormality. We see many whose virtues are cases of what medical technicality calls hypertrophy-a condition of excessive development of some organ or part of the body. That is not the ideal in character. Our characters should be like the rainbow, where all colors blend in a balanced whole. To this end, we should cultivate the virtues that we do not have, and, at the same time, guard against making faults of those that we do have.
"Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived." There is nothing by which we can be more easily deceived and led astray, than by faults that originate in good qualities.
How easily a young man can be led astray by the desire to be "a good fellow." He takes to the wine cup, not from any love of the wine, but from sheer love of fellowship. Watch your impulses, however good and generous they may be. Be aware of your excellences, lest they become excrescences. If you have any bad points, keep an eye on them, and sedulously guard yourself against them. But also-WATCH YOUR GOOD POINTS.