Acrostics are useful in that they present us with an order for thinking. The following acrostic is alphabetical and it helps us to think of the virtuous way:
Authenticity – is the feature of being completely ourselves. What seems easy on the surface may require a lifetime’s work in developing our self-acceptance.
Bearing – life requires us to bear many things; stresses, pressures, abuse and neglect, the worries of others, our health, our family, etc are all very real existential concerns. We ought to aim to bear these well, but alas, many times we won’t.
Courage – maybe it’s the king of virtues, but where would be without its Queen, Love? Does anything help us as much, in practical terms, as courage?
Diligence – God helps those who help themselves. A wholesome self-discipline is such a trait to be cherished.
Empathy – when relationships come into frame, very few virtues are more important than empathy.
Forgiveness – such a vital skill for living that is nurtured in the muscles of the heart.
Gratitude – many, for instance Chesterton and Cicero, place this one, with thankfulness, as the chief virtue. It is a joy kick-starter.
Humility – according to Augustine this is the major virtue for growth in the Christian faith. Nothing quenches our sinful pride better.
Insight – or, otherwise, discernment. With its cousin, Understanding, these feed directly into Wisdom. Insight is a gift and it can be developed. It’s an eye for the truth.
Justice – truth, again, is the major point of life in community. Justice beseeches all who would listen to seek and to listen for the truth.
Kindness – the fundamental instrument of compassion. Where is Love, in the practical setting, without kindness?
Love – it can be argued, very persuasively, that this is the Summum Bonum. The mystery of love is such that a whole life’s study of it would hardly scratch the surface.
Mateship – what is an Australian word for comradeship is a binding virtuous fact. There is no better love than one where a friend lays down their life for another (John 15:13).
Nobility – beyond royalty, this virtue rises to the holy realm, but it has a fantastically humble feel about it. The best royals are the humblest of people.
Openness – one who is open, and very clearly Authentic, values the truth above their comfort. With Courage they are open, particularly in the face of fear.
Patience – another competing strongly for the top of virtues. Cyprian referred to Jesus as Perfect Patience. Many of the world’s ills, and ours personally, could be rectified with adherence to patience.
Query – added to Insight is the holy matter of curiosity. It shares no selfish burden as it patiently works for the truth. Query is the commencement of learning; the burgeoning of new life.
Realism – the virtue of the spiritually and psychologically mature. Expectations are tamed when the person becomes a realist.
Sacrifice – this is so critically important to the survival of humanity and to development at a personal level. Nothing good is gained without sacrifice.
Trust – to trust is to find safety from somewhere; notionally, God. Trust is so often reciprocated in respect, as it is the other way around, too. Trust and respect make the relational wheels go around.
Understanding – the most vital component of Wisdom. It must know the will of God. Having such Insight is the key to the Kingdom.
Vivacity – we need energy and enthusiasm and an encouraged gait to achieve the challenging and the magnificent. Otherwise we fall short. It’s a secret of success.
Wisdom – there is no better companion for the living of life. It is not knowledge, per se, but it is deciding best each moment (as best as that can be achieved).
Excellence – this is not perfection. It is merely the fullness of commitment required for getting better and better. Continuous improvement is no wasted byword.
Yielding – the virtuous life isn’t complete without the skills of negotiation and renegotiation, and particularly, knowing when and how to yield.
Zeal – with Vivacity, this is such a necessary component; a joy-fuelled exuberance that carries us over the line, even in the most trying circumstances.
The virtuous life is the key to joy and peace, and to the acquisition of the entire Fruit of the Spirit.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.