A photograph capturing a well-worn Bible open to a page highlighting the nine virtues; faith, hope, love, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, and humility.

The 9 Virtues In The Bible And What They Mean For Your Life

Faith. Hope. Charity. If you grew up going to church, you probably recognize those as three of the key virtues referenced in the Bible. But what are the other six virtues mentioned in the Bible, and what can they teach us about living a meaningful, upright life?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the 9 virtues in the Bible and how you can cultivate them in your own life.

If you don’t have time to read the full article right now, here’s a quick overview of the 9 virtues discussed in the Bible: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Cultivating these virtues can help Christians grow in spiritual maturity and Christ-like character.


The Greatest Virtue

Love is considered the greatest virtue in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 13:13 states that faith, hope and love remain, but “the greatest of these is love.” This chapter describes love as patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not proud, not dishonoring others, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth.

It protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. This beautiful depiction shows how love encompasses all the other virtues and reflects the nature of God.

Jesus taught that loving God and loving your neighbor summarize all the commandments (Matthew 22:37-40). He demonstrated unconditional, sacrificial love by dying on the cross for the sins of humanity while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).

As his followers, we are called to walk in love just as Christ loved us (Ephesians 5:2). When we love others, we fulfill the heart of the law.

Love God and Neighbor

Loving God means having a personal relationship with him, trusting in his promises, obeying his commands, living for his glory, and finding satisfaction in him above all else. It involves loving him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).

We love God because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Loving your neighbor includes showing compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience to others (Colossians 3:12). It means bearing with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2), encouraging each other and building others up (1 Thessalonians 5:11), greeting one another with a holy kiss (1 Corinthians 16:20), and countless other demonstrations of care.

Love of God Looks Like Love of Neighbor Looks Like
Praying, praising, and giving God thanks Greeting with a smile
Trusting his promises Listening with empathy
Obeying his commands Bearing with patiently
Seeking to please him Encouraging kindly

Love Your Enemies

Jesus took love to another level by commanding his followers to love their enemies (Matthew 5:44). Loving your enemies does not mean approving of their behavior. Rather, it means showing them grace and mercy, praying for them, and seeking to do them good.

This kind of supernatural love singles out Christ-followers as children of God, for even sinners love those who love them (Luke 6:32-35).

By extending love to those who hate and mistreat us, we reflect the loving nature of Christ. His love compels us to see others through his eyes of compassion rather than responding in anger or revenge (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

Just as God shows his love to us when we least deserve it, we are called to show undeserved love and offer forgiveness to others.


Joy Comes from God

The Bible teaches that true joy comes from God. As James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” This includes the gift of joy. God wants us to have joy and encourages us to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4).

Jesus came so that we could have joy overflowing (John 15:11). As we walk closely with God each day through prayer, worship, and studying His Word, He fills our hearts with supernatural joy.

Fullness of Joy in Christ

The highest joy comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ. When we put our faith in Him as Savior, we are filled with joy and peace (Romans 15:13). Jesus gives us a joy that cannot be taken away, even in the midst of trials (John 16:22).

The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit after Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:20). As we keep our eyes fixed on Christ and live in the power of the Spirit, we can experience the fullness of joy He promises.

Joy in the Midst of Trials

One of the amazing things about biblical joy is that it can thrive even in the midst of difficult trials. James 1:2 tells us to “Consider it pure joy” when we face troubles because it develops perseverance.

We can have joy in suffering because we know God is using it for our good (Romans 8:28) and it is only temporary. The joy of the Lord gives us strength to press on (Nehemiah 8:10). We can rejoice because we know Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33) and our eternal future with Him makes any present troubles seem small in comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17).

By God’s grace, we can choose joy in every circumstance.


Inner Peace Through Christ

Inner peace is a state of calm, tranquility, and harmony within oneself. As Philippians 4:7 states, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

When we have faith in Jesus Christ, we can experience divine peace that surpasses human understanding. Christ gives us the gift of peace that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Here are some ways we can attain inner peace through Christ:

  • Praying and developing a close relationship with God allows us to release our anxieties and feel God’s presence.
  • Reading the Bible provides us with guidance, wisdom, and reassurance of God’s love.
  • Trusting in God’s sovereignty and timing for our lives instead of trying to control everything.
  • Practicing gratitude and thanking God throughout the day.
  • Releasing negative emotions like anger, bitterness, and resentment to Christ.
  • Focusing on positive things and serving others.

As we grow closer to Christ, we experience more of His supernatural peace that surpasses human understanding. Despite external circumstances, we can have inner tranquility in our spirit when we rely on Jesus.

Peace with Others

In addition to inner peace, the Bible also instructs us to seek peace with others. As Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” This does not mean we will never experience conflict.

However, as followers of Christ, we should do our part to promote peace, harmony, and unity in our relationships and communities.

Here are some biblical ways to cultivate peace with others:

  • Being kind, compassionate, and forgiving, just as Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32).
  • Seeking reconciliation after conflict and being quick to apologize and forgive (Matthew 5:23-24).
  • Speaking with care, wisdom, and edification to avoid arguments (Ephesians 4:29).
  • Being slow to anger and avoiding retaliation (Proverbs 15:1).
  • Respecting differences and seeking common ground rather than arguing over opinions (Romans 14:19).
  • Praying for those who mistreat us and loving our enemies (Luke 6:27-28).

As ambassadors for Christ, we have the ministry of reconciliation. Though we cannot control others, we can do our part to live at peace with everyone and be shining examples of Christ’s love in the world.

Shalom – Wholeness and Flourishing

The Hebrew word “shalom” conveys a state of wholeness, completeness, welfare, tranquility, and flourishing. Shalom is more than just the absence of conflict. According to Strong’s Concordance, shalom means completeness, soundness, and prosperity.

The concept of shalom includes personal well-being as well as right relationships between people and God.

Jesus is described as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) because He restores broken relationships between God and humanity. Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we can have shalom – complete reconciliation with God (Romans 5:1).

As we walk in intimate relationship with God, we experience shalom internally and can also promote shalom in our relationships, families, workplaces, churches, and communities.

Some key ways followers of Jesus live out shalom include:

  • Resolving conflicts quickly and restoring relationships (Matthew 5:23-24).
  • Loving and serving others, seeking their good (Matthew 22:39).
  • Establishing just societies and social structures (Isaiah 32:16-17).
  • Stewarding resources responsibly and caring for the environment (Genesis 1:28).
  • Reconciling adversaries and bringing people together (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

God desires shalom – total well-being and wholeness for all people. As Christians, we are called to be shalom-makers who live out Christlike character and spread His love everywhere we go.


Wait Patiently for the Lord

Patience is a virtue emphasized throughout the Bible. One of the key teachings around patience is waiting patiently for the Lord. There are numerous verses that highlight this, such as Psalm 27:14 which says “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”.

Another example is Lamentations 3:25 which tells us “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” This reminds us that although waiting can be difficult, God is faithful and will act in His perfect timing.

Examples of biblical figures who waited patiently on the Lord include Abraham, who waited many years for God’s promise of a son, and Job, who remained faithful despite intense suffering. Their stories reveal how patience stems from hope and trust in God’s goodness.

Even when we cannot see the reasons for delay, we can rest knowing God works all things for our good. Patience is not just waiting around passively, but waiting with perseverance, optimism and faith.

Slow to Anger

The Bible frequently warns against being quick-tempered and losing self-control in anger. Proverbs 14:29 states “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”

Anger often leads us to sin in the heat of the moment, while patience enables wisdom and restraint.

We see the damaging effects of uncontrolled anger vividly in the story of Cain and Abel. Cain reacted in anger when Abel’s sacrifice was favored, leading him to murder his brother. In contrast, the example of Jesus displays remarkable patience when being persecuted and rejected.

Followers of Christ are called to reflect His gentle, patient spirit in the face of injustice and conflict. Slowness to anger demonstrates spiritual maturity and self-control empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Endure Suffering with Patience

Patience and endurance are closely linked, as patience helps us bear up under trials. James 1:2-4 tells us to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Difficult circumstances are opportunities to let patience have its perfect work in our character.

The apostle Paul spoke from experience about learning through suffering when he wrote “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4).

While no one welcomes suffering, it tests and refines our faith. Patience helps us run the race of faith and finish strong, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.


Show Kindness to Others

Displaying benevolence and care towards others is central to living a virtuous life according to the Bible. As Ephesians 4:32 states, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Simple acts of consideration like smiling, holding the door, or helping someone carry groceries can brighten someone’s day. Even small gestures spread joy.

Jesus provided the ultimate act of kindness by sacrificing himself for humanity’s sins. As Christians, we should follow His example by serving others before ourselves. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, donate to charity, call an elderly relative, or surprise a friend with an encouraging note.

See the face of Jesus in the people around you. Treat them with the gentle grace He showed the marginalized.

God’s Kindness Toward Us

Despite our flaws and repeated mistakes, God continuously pours out His lovingkindness on His children. As it says in Psalm 117:2, “For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.”

Even when we were dead in our sin, He showed compassion and sent Christ to die for us (Ephesians 2:4-5).

God tenderly cares for each person as His precious child. He knows every hair on our heads and collects every tear we cry (Luke 12:7, Psalm 56:8). No matter what hardships we face, He promises to remain by our side as a refuge of care and mercy.

We must remember during trials that the Lord is slow to anger and abounding in devotion (Psalm 103:8).

The Fruit of Kindness

Cultivating kindness in our words and deeds bears powerful fruit. It fosters unity and understanding between people rather than breeding contempt. It brings joy and self-worth to both the giver and receiver. And most importantly, it honors our Savior.

Studies even show that committing acts of kindness reduces stress, enhances happiness, and may improve heart health. The positive effects of benevolence extend beyond the emotional realm and can impact physical wellbeing. Our souls and bodies both benefit from sharing sweetness.

Just as plants yield lovelier blooms when tended kindly, people flower when nurtured with gentleness. Make the choice each day to scatter the seeds of compassion.


Doing What is Good and Right

The Bible encourages us to do what is good and right in God’s eyes (Deuteronomy 6:18). This means adhering to God’s moral standards and acting with love, kindness, justice and righteousness toward others.

As GotQuestions.org notes, goodness is associated with generosity, charity, benevolence and compassion.

Scripture urges us to turn away from evil and do good (Psalm 34:14; Isaiah 1:16-17). The prophets frequently reminded Israel that God expected them to “do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

Jesus also instructed his followers to let their light shine through good works (Matthew 5:16).

God is Good

The Bible repeatedly affirms that God himself is good. In fact, Jesus stated that “No one is good–except God alone” (Luke 18:19). All true goodness reflects God’s perfect moral character. Anything God does is consistent with his righteous nature.

We see God’s goodness expressed through his lovingkindness, grace, mercy, compassion, faithfulness and care for his people. Even in punishment, God’s judgments are accurate, fair and for ultimate good.

As CompellingTruth.org explains, God’s goodness means he always acts in accordance with what is right, true and faithful.

Created for Good Works

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God created believers in Christ to do good works which he prepared in advance for us. An integral part of our design as followers of Jesus is being zealous for good deeds (Titus 2:14). God graciously gives us spiritual gifts and talents to serve others.

Examples of good works mentioned in Scripture include feeding the hungry, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, caring for orphans and widows, proclaiming Christ, making disciples, serving in the church, giving generously, showing hospitality and visiting those in prison (Matthew 25:35-36; 28:19; Romans 12:13; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Hebrews 13:2).

As God conforms us to the image of Christ, we become better equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Holy Spirit empowers believers to walk in God’s righteousness and fulfill his purposes through us.


God is Faithful

God’s faithfulness means that He keeps His promises and is always reliable. Throughout the Bible, we see demonstrations of God’s faithfulness as He fulfills His covenants and promises. For example, when God made a covenant with Abraham, He followed through and miraculously provided Isaac.

Even when God’s people wavered, He remained steadfast in His love and plans for them. God does not lie or change His mind – He faithfully stands by His Word (Numbers 23:19). This is an amazing comfort and source of security for believers.

We can wholeheartedly trust in God because He is a faithful Father.

There are so many verses in the Bible that highlight God’s faithfulness. Deuteronomy 7:9 says “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”

Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us that His mercies “are new every morning” and that God remains faithful despite our shortcomings. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 declares “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” What confidence we can have that the Lord will fulfill His good plans for our lives!

When we face trials, we may doubt God’s faithfulness at times. But He reassures us that through tests of faith, our endurance and character can grow and we can develop maturity (James 1:2-4). We need to cling to God’s promises and focus on His faithfulness that remains constant, even when our circumstances seem shaky.

Remaining Faithful to God

Just as God shows His faithfulness to us consistently, He desires us to remain faithful to Him in return. Our faithfulness grows out of reverence and love for who God is and all He has done for us.

Faithfulness to God means obediently living according to His will and Word. We show our devotion by pursuing righteousness and resisting the pull towards sin. Remaining faithful is not simply about checking off religious boxes – it flows out of an authentic relationship with Jesus.

He emphasizes the importance of obedience and spiritual fruit in our lives (John 15:1-17). As we submit ourselves to God, the Holy Spirit empowers us to turn from sinful desires and walk in newness of life.

Another aspect of faithfulness to God is remaining steadfast in our beliefs when our culture clashes with biblical values. In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul talks about not losing heart and continuing in the work of the Lord despite hardships we may face for standing firm in the faith (2 Corinthians 4:1-18).

As believers, we pledge our unwavering allegiance to Christ. We must guard against wavering and compromise, even when it may be unpopular or difficult to follow God wholeheartedly.

Being faithful to God also means nurturing our relationship with Him through spiritual disciplines like prayer, studying the Bible, fellowship and worship. We live out our devotion through acts of service and generosity as well.

“Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). When we love the Lord above all else, faithfulness flows naturally from our hearts.

Faithfulness in Relationships

God designed us for meaningful connections with others. Faithfulness should characterize our relationships and flow out of the love that God Himself models perfectly.

Marriage relationships provide a powerful metaphor of faithfulness between husband and wife that mirrors Christ’s covenant love for the church (Ephesians 5:25-33). God designed the marital union to be a lifelong commitment because it offers stability, security and intimacy.

When we make promises to our spouses, we must follow through with loyalty, trustworthiness and love that stands the test of time.

In friendships as well, faithfulness fosters depth, transparency and unconditional acceptance that helps bonds grow stronger. The book of Proverbs says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

Faithful friends stick together through life’s ups and downs.

Faithfulness applies to other areas of relationship too. Employers should treat workers fairly and compensate them properly. Governments must act with justice and integrity. Overall, whether in public or private spheres of life, faithfulness means walking in honesty and service towards others.

It builds trust and enrichs community.

As God’s representatives here on earth, faithfulness should mark all our relationships. When we reflect God’s steadfast love and mercy, it powerfully testifies to those around us of His abiding presence and the hope we have in Christ.


Power Under Control

Gentleness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that enables a believer to exercise power and authority with care, compassion, and self-control. The Greek word for gentleness, prautes, refers to power under control.

Unlike meekness which implies a lack of power, gentleness implies tremendous strength held in check for the benefit of others.

Jesus Christ demonstrated this gentle strength throughout His ministry. Though He had all power and authority, He did not lord it over people or force them to follow Him. Rather, He served and sacrificed for others. His gentleness drew people to Himself.

As His followers, we are called to have the same attitude of humble service and controlled strength.

Handle Others Gently

Gentleness enables us to handle delicate people and situations with care and wisdom. We all know individuals who are sensitive or easily offended. A gentle person is able to kindly tailor their words and actions to avoid unnecessary hurt.

They are aware of others’ weaknesses and limit the exercise of their Christian freedom accordingly (Galatians 5:13).

Gentleness also enables us to correct others wisely when needed. The apostle Paul wrote that those engaged in spiritual restoration must have a gentle spirit, aware that they too could succumb to sin (Galatians 6:1). Harsh words or self-righteous condemnation will only alienate.

Lovingly pointing out fault with the goal of repentance and growth requires gentleness.

Speak Gently

Our speech provides a clear window into our level of gentleness. When discussing controversial issues, do we seek to understand others’ perspectives? Or do we forcefully push our views, escalating tensions? Gentleness promotes peace through patient and considerate speech (James 3:17-18).

Additionally, gentle people avoid gossip, complaining, lies, exaggerations, or harmful speech of any kind. They aim to build others up, not tear them down with careless words. Our speech should be “full of grace, seasoned with salt”, gently ministering to those who hear (Colossians 4:6).


Control Your Desires

Self-control is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. It refers to our ability to control our desires, emotions, and behaviors. Controlling our desires is an important aspect of self-control according to the Bible.

We live in a world filled with temptations and instant gratification. From addictive social media to endless entertainment options, it’s easy to indulge our desires. However, the Bible warns about giving in to every desire.

For example, 1 John 2:16 says “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.”

Here are some tips for learning to control desires from a Biblical perspective:

  • Identify triggers and high-risk situations that spark uncontrolled desires.
  • Pray and ask God for strength to resist temptation when desires arise.
  • Avoid compromising situations where you’re more likely to act on fleshly desires.
  • Find an accountability partner to discuss struggles and keep each other in check.
  • Focus your thoughts on heavenly and eternal things rather than indulging earthly desires (see Colossians 3:2).

The Holy Spirit produces self-control in our lives as we submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). We can’t manufacture it on our own, but must rely on divine power to restrain our wayward desires that lead to sin.

Discipline Your Body

In addition to controlling desires of the mind, self-control also involves disciplining the body. Our bodies and minds are closely connected, so physical discipline can strengthen mental and emotional control.

The apostle Paul emphasized disciplining the body for spiritual benefit saying, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

Some examples of disciplining the body include:

  • Controlling food intake through fasting – Jesus fasted for 40 days before beginning ministry (Matthew 4:2). Fasting teaches restraint of appetites.
  • Exercising self-control in speech – James 1:26 states “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”
  • Practicing sexual purity – 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 instructs us to control our own bodies in holiness and honor.
  • Getting proper rest – Lack of sleep can harm health and make self-control more difficult.

A moderate, disciplined lifestyle honors God and promotes self-control. As Paul wrote: “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you … You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV).

Resist Temptation

An important way to exercise self-control is resisting temptation. Temptation itself is not sin, but succumbing to it leads to sinful behavior. The Bible is filled with stories of people who faced temptation and either resisted it or fell into it:

  • Joseph resisted sexual temptation from Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39.
  • David gave into temptation and committed adultery with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11.
  • Jesus himself was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days but resisted with Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11).

The Bible says God provides the way out of every temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). We can resist by prayer, God’s Word, accountability, avoiding compromise, and the Holy Spirit working within us.

James 4:7 offers a concise formula for resisting temptation: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Staying close to God gives strength to withstand temptation’s pull toward sin.

Growing in self-control takes time and God’s grace. When we fail, repentance and getting back on track are key. The spiritual fruits of temperance and moderation then start to blossom in our lives.


The 9 virtues discussed in the Bible – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – encompass a wide range of godly attitudes and Christ-like behaviors.

As we seek to grow in our faith and become more like Jesus, cultivating these virtues allows us to live upright, moral, and meaningful lives that honor God and serve others.

By focusing our minds on virtue and making conscious efforts to walk in love, practice patience, show kindness even when it’s difficult, and exercise self-control, we open ourselves up to the transforming and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

The more we nurture these virtues, the more we will experience the abundant life that God desires for each of His children.

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