The Virtues or Fruit of the Holy Spirit

ByGatekeepers Association

The Virtues or Fruit of the Holy Spirit

Virtue is a term derived from the Latin virtus, which means “strength” as well as virtue. This meaning points out that virtues inhere to a person’s inner character and personal strength. Cicero wrote: “Virtue may be defined as a habit of mind (animi) in harmony with reason and the order of nature” (De Inventione, II, LIII). Unlike the commandments of God, which form a bottom line of moral behavior, virtue does not possess an upper limit. God is the infinite source and norm of all virtue, therefore humans can and ought always to increase in virtue. No human will ever reach the infinite virtue of God our Lord, and he will always help humans reach ever higher in virtue.

Naturally, much of a person’s interior character and virtue remains opaque to other humans. Ultimately only the Lord God can observe the virtues of any and all human beings:

  • Sam. 16:7 The LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.
  • Jer 20:12 Yet, O LORD of hosts, You who tests the righteous, Who sees the mind and the heart.
  • Luke 16:15 You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts.
  • Prov. 16:2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the LORD weighs the motives.
  • Prov. 21:2 Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.

Yet Christ taught, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). In that regard, we can consider the manifestation of virtues or lack thereof in the people around us, including politicians. Human behaviors can often, though not in every case, indicate the presence of virtuous character. While absolute certainty about another person’s virtue is impossible for limited human knowledge, we can justify an examination of politicians in this regard, simply keeping ourselves explicitly aware that our knowledge of another person’s virtue is limited.

Three of these virtues – faith, hope and love – are themselves unwarranted free gifts of God. Possession of them will be judged by the God who gave them rather than by human beings who can.

Other virtues are called the “fruit of the Holy Spirit”:

  • Gal. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.

Cardinal Virtues:

  • Plato (The Republic, 427e; see also 435b), Cicero (De Inventione, II, LIII), and others listed four key natural virtues, which the Church fathers such as St.
  • Ambrose (Commentary on Luke, V, 62) and St. Augustine (De moribus eccl., Chap. xv), identified as “cardinal” or “hinge” virtues:
    • Prudence (phronesis; Latin: prudentia): is the ability to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time
    • Justice (dikaiosyne; Latin: iustitia): fair and equitable treatment of people in terms of natural law and civil law.
    • Temperance (sophrosyne; Latin: temperantia): the ability to restrain and apply self-control to the various natural appetites, which otherwise left on their own would go out of control.
    • Courage (andreia; Latin: fortitudo): is the ability to confront and overcome one’s fears in order to accomplish one’s duties.

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