Book Review: Essential Virtues

I recently finished reading through the book Essential Virtues, by Jim Berg, and would definitely recommend it to any believer (new or more mature) who is serious about growing in Christlikeness.

The book defines, examines, and applies the qualities listed in 2 Peter 1:5-7, which each believer is to add to his or her life:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

Berg breaks these “essential virtues” into three categories, which he calls the “core values” of Christlike character —

  • faith, virtue (excellence), and knowledge are considered aspects of our commitment to Christ;
  • self-control, steadfastness (endurance), and godliness are aspects of our courage for Christ; and
  • brotherly affection and love are aspects of our compassion like Christ.

The book provides a chapter for each of the qualities, delving into definitions and applications for every day life, as well as chapters regarding each of the broader “core values” of Christlikeness. There are also several applicable appendices and charts to add knowledge and aid understanding. In addition, a chapter-by-chapter study guide is included in the book, which contains reflection and application questions, a relevant Scripture passage for meditation and memorization, and a guide for personal prayer time.

Essential Virtues provides a timely message, much needed by today’s believers, combining down-to-earth examples and relevant applications which are all based solely upon Scripture. The analysis of 2 Peter 1:5-7 is deep yet understandable, whether the reader has had the benefit of Biblical training or is a new believer in Christ, and would be a great supplement to personal devotions and a helpful addition to any library.


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