8 “Christian” Virtues That Are Not Really Christian

What if certain virtues we equate with following Jesus aren’t actually Christian?

What if certain Christian virtues we equate with following Jesus aren’t actually Christian? Are we following Jesus or following someone's expectation of what it means to be Christian?

5. Never doubting or questioning God is not a Christian virtue.

Growing up, doubting God or questioning the Bible was disrespectful at best, and blasphemous at worst.

Because of this, my faith journey was framed by an unhealthy picture of God. In my mind, God was this divine being with an enormous limb (probably one he picked from The Tree of Life). Positioned like a power hitter in baseball, He waited for someone to question him so he could smash you over the left-field wall.

Then, in college, doubt chiseled away at my faith. I wasn’t sure how to process the hard questions. I couldn’t talk to God. He was mad. I couldn’t talk to other Christians. They would tell me to pray harder.

Then I found a life-saving book. Psalms.

Psalms painted a different picture of God. Faithful men doubted and spoke “matter-of-factly” to God. He didn’t destroy them. He walked with them. He was patience and understanding.

I still question and doubt. The God of love allows space for this. He stays with me through it, and celebrates when I reach the other side.

Christians with doubts and questions aren’t lacking faith. In fact, I would say doubt is an unavoidable by-product of growing closer to an infinitely powerful and knowledgeable God.

6. Knowledge about the Bible is not a Christian virtue.

When I worked in youth ministry, I traveled a lot. Before loading the bus, everyone had an opportunity to pull the trigger on shotgun. But, to be honest, I only wanted one person to call it. Why? I had a Bible trivia app and no one else competed with me.

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I could name every judge and pair people with weird, random facts. I knew the Bible.

But this isn’t surprising, right? Faithful Christians know their Bible.

Well…that depends.

The apostle Paul says knowledge puffs up but loves builds up. My Christian journey proves this verse true.

Knowledge alone is quite dangerous, actually.

I look back on my Bible trivia days. While I rarely lost, my reward for winning was a crown of pride.

Jesus flipped the model of righteousness and holy living. Faithful Christians might know their Bible. But if your Bible knowledge doesn’t compel to serve your neighbor, you’re missing something. Great students are great servants.

7. Promptness is not a Christian virtue.

While we’re here, let’s include other members of the squad. Organized. Efficient. Go-getter. #squad

Granted, being on time can show concern and respect for the person you’re meeting.

But promptness isn’t a Christian virtue. If Jesus lived in modern-day America, I’m not sure he would appreciate our infatuation with “to-do lists” and punctuality. We’re talking about a guy who arrived late to scheduled appointments, and on one occasion, his “lateness” resulted in a man’s death, Lazarus. Beggars and tax collectors distracted Jesus. He changed plans without warning.

I’ve heard passive-aggressive comments about being late for worship all my life. I’ve made them myself. While punctuality is good practice in America, it’s not a barometer for godliness or devotion to God.

8. Being expressive and emotional is not a Christian virtue.

I’m an emotional guy. I cry often. Don’t judge me. I also lift my hands and move around when I worship.

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Real Christians are expressive, I used to think. But spending time with Christians who aren’t expressive revealed something different, a deep love for Jesus. On the flip side, I’ve spent time with expressive, emotional Christians and found them to be bored and dry. Expressive, emotional behavior can reveal passion, but not necessarily.

Let’s be careful not to make our perspective the perspective. God is infinitely creative. So are his people.


It’s your turn.

What Christian virtues are not really Christian?

I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!

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Frank Powell
Frank Powell serves in the Campbell Street Church of Christ in Jackson, Tenn., ministering to college-age and young adults.
  • Gwen Rushing

    So enjoy your posts. You get to the heart of things and express it well and without compromise. Thank you.

  • Ronnie DelBacco

    I have come to love reading all the articles posted by yous guys. I share them and occasionally have used them in Sunday School lessons. Thank you!

  • Zilch

    That is amzing. It made me look at myself and my faith in a different way. Thanks so much Frank!

  • eleni_aus

    have heard no. 3 too often provided as an excuse/reason to just ‘not attend’ at all… forgetting the injunction to not forsake gathering together, robbing ourselves of the opportunity of participating in communion or hearing the Word , or being prompted to confess – and forgive and be forgiven … to be blessed in so many ways… It’s not being a slave to it, and nagging kids senseless, ‘dragging’ them to church, but being a member, modelling membership in one’s life rather than as a badge or source of exhaustion through over-yessing … loved Luther’s reminder to serve/worship with family as part of our worship… rather than starve the family to feed the ‘church’ ..I suppose it all should be a generous / joyous / mutually suportive part of our lives

    • Dottie Mertsky

      I’ve known non-believers who were better than some Christians. All good people……but not all going to heaven.

  • John Thompson

    So you are saying that if Jesus were here today he would approve of lying? Promptness being on time when you have said you would be there is a matter of honesty as much as anything so that makes it a virtue. So by what you are saying then I take it that if I tell you that I will be somewhere at a particular time and something better comes up that I do not need to keep my commitment to you and can just not show up.
    Your claim that Jesus changed plans without warning is based upon what? He was not late to Lazarus, he intentionally did not go but also had not promised to be there as you assume.
    “Jesus flipped the model of righteousness and holy living. ” Yes nut not at the expense of the knowledge of the Word. He told his disciples that they were to do what the Pharisees did and said to do but not with their attitude. He is the one that said that they should have without neglecting the weightier parts.

  • Paul Nurmi

    Passion is not really a Christian virtue. A lot of leaders in today’s church speak of passion as being so important yet passion is often not good. In fact sometimes it is actually good to take a step back and not be so passionate about things. Think and meditate on truth rather than allow our emotions and feelings to dominate.

  • David Stewart

    I would agree that having all these things doesn’t make you a good Christian and they aren’t necessary to be a Christian, but I think that knowledge of the Bible, especially, is something to strive for, not necessarily Bible trivia or obscure facts, but knowing deeply what God says and what the Bible means. I’m surprised at so many Christians who haven’t read the whole Bible and don’t know what it says beyond the more well-known passages. Anyway, good post to think about and start a discussion.