It has been awhile since I wrote about Jesus Christ. As I have mentioned in previous columns, I do not have formal Biblical training, am not a minister, nor hold any educational degrees in Christianity or theology.
I am an imperfect Christian who seeks a personal relationship with Jesus on a daily basis. While Jesus possessed all of the virtues that exist, below you will find the seven that seem to impact our lives the most based on what I have learned through Bible study, ministers, and the human experience.
1. LOYALTY – The book of Proverbs provides thatloyalty is remaining committed to those whom God has brought into our lives and has called us to serve, even in times of difficulty.
The word “loyal” means “unswerving in allegiance.” This clearly provides a duty to be loyal, faithful, dependable, and committed to the closest people who surround us. Unfortunately, this is a rare trait. Human nature dictates that we should be committed only to ourselves. A loyal friend will defend you without hesitation even when faced with severe trial or trouble. Loyalty looks past personal safety and needs, to the needs of the one we intend to be loyal to.
Perhaps the most well known example of disloyalty in the Bible is the betrayal of Jesus by one of his disciples and close friends; Judas Iscariot. After his betrayal of Jesus, Judas took his own life. The fate of Judas illustrates that we will always reap what we sow.
2. HONESTY – The book of Hebrews tells us that honesty is being truthful and doing what is sincere and right before God and others.
Jesus did not just tell the truth, He is the Truth. When the truth harms us or makes us “look bad”, we naturally want to spin a different version of events to avoid negative consequences. However, my experiences in and out of court have taught me that honesty is a critical character attribute. One example is when a defendant is being sentenced for a crime by a judge. Many defendants will blame other people or circumstances for their behavior. Others will take ownership of the truth regarding what they have done. After many years of watching and engaging in sentencing hearings, it is clear that the honest man receives grace while the dishonest man oftentimes receives what he probably deserves.
3. COURAGE – The virtue of courage involves doing difficult and dangerous things to help other people. Contrary to conventional wisdom, courageous people do not lack fear. With God’s guidance, they overcome it.
Courage oftentimes coincides with honesty. Paul wrote that courage is telling the truth in love even when it hurts. Telling the truth may cost us a relationship with another person, disappoint someone we admire, or create negative consequences for ourselves. The greatest act of courage was Christ’s obedient death on the cross. The Gospel of Mark reminds us that we see courage lived out in obedience to God’s holy demand and the ultimate sacrifice for us. Thus, courage is not foolhardiness and spoken with reckless abandon. Rather, it aims at God’s holiness with a full realization of both the actual and potential danger and cost involved.
4. FORGIVING – We all know we are supposed to forgive others when they wrong us. But, we still have problems doing it; particularly when the wrongdoing is ongoing. It is also harder to forgive those we love than those who we might consider to be our enemies. The book of Psalms illustrates this well in the message that my friend’s speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart. His words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords. But, Jesus managed to extend forgiveness to the guards who were crucifying Him in the middle of the act. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). We can do the same with the strength that God provides.
5. HUMILITY – Jesus taught, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” (John 6:38).
It seems that many people in Judea at the time of Jesus were looking for a warrior king. They expected Him to take political power and right every wrong. But, Jesus himself said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45). Jesus is the ultimate example of a humble, servant leader. Arrogance blocks the development of our personal relationship with Christ.
But, being humble does not equate to weakness. One of the most humble men I know is a criminal defense attorney named Jimmy Berry. Jimmy also happens to be one of the most talented and successful lawyers in the country. Being humble prepares us for God to shape us into an image of servitude toward others.
6. COMPASSION – “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Jesus is full of compassion towards us when we have done nothing to warrant it. We are sheep without a shepherd. Observing this quality of Jesus reminds us of the importance of having compassion for other people. Unlike Jesus, we do not know what other people who are in pain are truly going through. This gives us even more reason to give them the benefit of the doubt.
7. PATIENCE – Timothy wrote that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. Jesus had enormous patience. He waited 30 years to begin His public ministry. The time had to be right. And, He shows perfect patience with us by using the right time and circumstances in our lives to mold us and shape us. Although very difficult, especially for me, we need to exercise patience in our lives, with ourselves, with the people we come into contact with, and our present circumstances.
I realize that these seven virtues are impossible for us to perfect. I have fallen short in pursuing each one. But, I don’t believe that perfection is our goal. If we push ourselves each day to adhere to these virtues, I believe that our personal relationships with Jesus become closer and puts a smile on His face.