The Christian is called to a life of discipleship; that is, following Jesus Christ. This is not meant to be a life free of pain and suffering, but instead, a life full of light and purpose. This is made possible by the addition of a deeper level of fulfillment, joy and peace despite worldly suffering and affliction. This deeper peace, frequently termed serenity, can only be known through Jesus Christ. What guides us along our way in following Jesus involve virtues. It’s like an “inner compass” given to us by the Holy Spirit.
Biblically, we are told of a struggle between light and darkness. In another sense, virtues act like armor that help us remain in the goodness of God’s light, and enable us to live our life for the good of His design and purpose.
1 Thessalonians 5: 4 – 9 points us to this spiritual reality:
“But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Virtues define our direction and sense of purpose in life. Seven core virtues identified in Christian tradition are Faith, Hope, Love, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. Galatians 5:22 – 23 points us to the fruit of the Spirit, as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The fruit of the Spirit can be a type of virtue instilled in us by work of the Holy Spirit, when we align our life with His will. We know we are growing spiritually when we see these fruits at work in the important areas of our life.