This week's parsha begins with the Torah's description of Noach. "Noach was a righteous man; he was pure in his generation" (Bereishis 6, 9). Rashi tells us that Chazal disagree as to the implication of the Torah's specifying that Noach was righteous in his generation. Some interpret the pasuk in praise of Noach: had he been in a generation of righteous people he would have been even greater. Others contend that the Torah is criticizing Noach: he was only considered righteous in comparison to his generation and had he lived in the generation of Avraham Avinu he would not have been considered anything special.
In Shiurei Chumash Rav Wolbe reveals the depth behind the above argument. There are various different occurrences that can propel a person to reach a greater spiritual level. One of the situations that spur this growth is when a person perceives that he lives in a corrupt generation. This recognition brings him to the realization that he must fight the trend, and galvanizes him to live his life swimming against the tide. Had such a person lived in a morally righteous generation he would have lacked the impetus for his spiritual growth.
This is the intention behind those who explain the pasuk in a critical light. They were of the opinion that Noach acquired his spiritual drive through observing the decadent lifestyles of those around him. He recognized their flaws and did everything in his ability to ensure that he himself wouldn't imitate their actions. However, had he lived in Avraham's generation, he would have lacked that societal motivation. Those who argue assert that if he was able to withstand the great social pressures of his generation, then he was obviously spiritually oriented, and had he lived in a righteous generation he would have been even greater.
This is an idea which can inspire us to make great strides in our avodas Hashem. If we take an objective look around us we will perceive a generation which is corrupt in many areas. All moral boundaries have been broken. Is this the way we want to live and the ideals we want inculcated in our children? If we really recognize the decadence of the generation, then we will do all we can to ensure that the immorality of the streets should not enter our houses or invade our pockets. If we contrast a Torah true life to one lacking such ideals, the proper way of life is so glaringly obvious that we would be inspired to reach great levels in our avodas Hashem!