What Is Virtue In The Bible

What is Virtue in the Bible? It’s an important question that goes to the heart of much Christian teaching, and it one that settles in many minds long before entering full faith. We’ll break down some of the most prominent virtues and the ways in which they are woven into the moral fabric of scripture, incorporating insights from faith leaders and biblical scholars.


Love, as defined by St. Paul and other church Fathers, is the highest virtue of all. It encompasses the idea of merciful, charitable and forgiving behaviour, and it’s consistently presented as being the greatest commandment, according to Christianity. The Bible contains countless passages comparing love to charity for instance, Matthew 25:34-40 states “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”.

The Christian faith is devoted to the notion of loving one’s neighbour, but it clearly extends much further than that, as seen in Christ’s answer to question of ‘who is my neighbour’, as he responds in Luke 10:27- “And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’”
Love is a universal virtue, applicable far from the biblical context, but it’s a privilege to be able to turn to scripture for guidance and correction in such times. Thus, the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, your strength and your mind.


Faithfulness is another key Biblical virtue, involving total commitment to one’s beliefs, even when it’s difficult, tumultuous or seemingly impossible. Hebrews 11:1 states “ Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” This verse speaks to perseverance in the face of the unknown and relying solely on the Lord to direct our path, with no external indicators of the rightness of certain actions or behaviours. According to Proverbs 28:20 “a faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” As such, standing firm on our, whichever chosen path is most in line with scripture, is key to leading a meaningful and blessed life.


Humility is the disposition of being humble, acknowledging the grandeur and superiority of God and his works, but still recognizing and appreciating the individual accomplishments and talents He has loaned us. This is particularly key to Christianity and is woven throughout scripture. 1 Peter 5:5-6 states ,”God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” This key notion of pride as displeasure to God is seen throughout the bible, setting a clear standard for those hoping to attain righteousness. In the words of Ephesians 4:2, it is encouraged to “walk humbly with your God” and to view oneself as nothing without Him.


Selflessness is another virtue heavily implied in the Bible, calling upon believers to serve and honour God over all else and to live each day in accordance with His will. 1 Corinthians 13:5 states “Love is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered”, while Mark 10:42 says “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant”. This idea is far from unique to Judeo-Christian scripture, but it’s found in particular frequent guises throughout the Bible, such as in the example of Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet. This sacrificial act of humility is an example for all believers to aim for, initiating an attitude of ‘die to yourself in order to live in Christ’.

Rights and Responsibilities

In today’s society, rights are often discussed without taking into account the responsibilities that come along with them. However, both are intrinsically linked and this is particularly the case when it comes to Christianity. The Bible takes a stand on numerous issues and it outlines the responsibilities of a Christian in living righteously. For example, Ephesians 6:5-6 instructs slaves to “obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” This verse paints a clear picture of the precarious balance between rights and responsibilities, a balance that is fundamental to good Christian living.


The idea of forgiveness, overwhelming love and selflessness is core to Christian teaching. Jesus’ famous prayer on the Cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” encapsulates this perfect willingness to forgive, even in the face of extreme adversity. Jesus’ willingness to sacrifice himself is a prime example of why forgiveness is such a crucial virtue in Christianity, with Matthew 6:14-15 outlining this in the form of a model prayer, saying “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”


Compassion is often discussed in relationship to the love discussed earlier, however it expresses itself differently. Compassion is the feeling of sincere sympathy for one’s tribulations of hardship or suffering, with a desire to alleviate it if possible. Matthew 5:7 states “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” and this is an example of how compassion is a reciprocal virtue; “for with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38).

Historically, it is believed that the concept of compassion, in its larger sense, extends all the way back to Ancient Babylon, with the Code of Hammurabi alluding to forgiveness, mercy and the desire to not pass out excessive punishments. As such, it seems that, regardless of religion or faith, this virtue is one that Christian, Jewish and Islamic practices all share.


Though many wouldn’t consider ‘humour’ to be a virtue, it’s undeniable that humour, when used in the right contexts, is an extremely powerful tool, allowing us to communicate ideas, feelings and relationships that are much harder to express otherwise. Proverbs 17:22 states “A cheerful heart is a good medicine” suggesting that the Bible owns humour a material and spiritual benefit, and Ecclesiastes 3:4 “a time to weep and a time to laugh” clearly states the importance of humour in even the darkest of times.

It is also important to remember that humour is a form of self expression, and it can cause a great deal of damage if used without care or consideration. Many would argue that Ethics and Morality go hand in hand with humour, and Galatians 5:22-23 lists kindness, goodness and gentleness as three of the ‘Fruits of the Spirit’. As such, the Bible presents us with this lesson- humour can be used to make light of any situation, but only when done with consideration and humility.


Integrity is a virtue that entails leading a sincere and motivated life of upstanding and consistent moral character; it is ‘walking your talk’, as it were. Proverbs 20:7 implies that having such honour, or consistency, is extremely valuable and desirable, saying “A righteous man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” This suggests that living a life of integrity is essential in order to be a righteous presence in one’s community and is a key goal for the Christian.


Reverence is a keen appreciation of God, His works and His will, expressed through outward respect and obedience. While this may sound like a similar concept to humility, reverence takes it a step further and is more outwardly acknowledged as respect. This respect is expressed in Deuteronomy 6:2-3, which states “that you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” As such, reverence can be seen as a venerate way of demonstrating humility and the presence of staunch faith.


Tolerance is a virtue that has stood the test of time, though it was often defined differently across cultures and eras. From the Biblical context, tolerance is best expressed in our understanding of ‘long suffering’. Isaiah 57:15 states “For thus said the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabit eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

This verse speaks of the love and kindness God has for those who demonstrate contrition, even after having been guilty of much discourtesy. As such, tolerance is the ability to look deep within and forgive those who may have hurt us, and to accept everyone as equals in the eyes of God.

Hilda Scott is an avid explorer of the Bible and inteprator of its gospel. She is passionate about researching and uncovering the mysteries that lie in this sacred book. She hopes to use her knowledge and expertise to bring faith and God closer to people all around the world.

Leave a Comment