Virtues of the Spirit

Steven Bouma-Prediger

READ : Ephesians 4:1-16

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love (v. 2)

After theology Paul turns to ethics, as he usually does in his letters. Following three chapters about God the Father and the work of Christ the Son and the role of the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 4 begins a series of reflections on what this all means in everyday life. What does it look like in our day-to-day lives to put into practice these convictions about God?

Paul wastes no time describing such a life, but he does so not primarily in terms of conduct but of character. As in other letters (Gal. 5:22-23 and Col. 3:12-13), Paul mentions certain virtues that characterize the Christian life. Humility is the disposition not to seek prominence for oneself. A humble person allows others to take precedence and receive credit. Gentleness or meekness names the habitual disposition to be so focused on the common good as not to be distracted by anything personal. Moses was meek (Num. 12:3) because he sought first and foremost the good of those he was leading. Patience is the strength that allows us to resist the pressures of the moment. In Greek it means being long-tempered, as opposed to short-tempered. Patience is calm forbearance. Bearing with one another in love is the disposition to put up with the irritating faults and annoying idiosyncrasies of those with whom you live. Virtues; or we could say, “fruit of the Spirit.”


O God of love, may these virtues mark us.