Ancient writers such as Aristotle thought carefully about the virtues they would hope to see in a man of good character (and it was only the men they were interested in, of course!). Aristotle proposed four cardinal virtues, which he said were the most important aspects of character to practise in order to become a complete, flourishing human being. His cardinal virtues were:
Paul, of course, is a follower of Jesus and he had learned that this often meant turning conventional ways of looking at life upside down. Before he gives his list, he reminds us who we are- we not only have new clothes but we have a whole new identity. God has chosen us to be His. That means we are holy- not because holiness is something we do, but because holy things or people are those set apart by God to be used for His purposes. And we are beloved- we don't have to be the heroes of our story any more, God has already rescued us. So although courage, justice, prudence and temperance are not bad things, Paul suggests they are no longer the most important things that should characterise us. He says choose compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.
Spend some time today thinking about these 5 virtues. Why were they so important to Paul? Which do you find the most challenging? How would your family, workplace or community be changed if you were to act with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience every day?