Four Cardinal Virtues – Part Three

Ancient Greek culture passed on to us what were considered four vital virtues: PRUDENCE, JUSTICE, COURAGE, and TEMPERANCE.

Consider now the last two of these.

Courage is essential for the implementation of the other three. What good are they if we don’t have the courage of our convictions? Courage, holy boldness, amalgamated with grace is the spine of the other three.

Courage is always an act of faith, because the courageous person acts on what he believes, not necessarily on what he sees.

When all the things we could be afraid of are noted, it is easy to see why “don’t be afraid,” in one form or another, is one of the most repeated commands in Scripture. Put positively, God calls us like He did Daniel to “be strong and of good courage” (Daniel 10:19).

The same charge given the church at Corinth is relevant to us today.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

The same assurance our Lord gave His disciples immediately before His exodus is ours, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) Buckle your seatbelt and get ready for the ride regardless of how hard. Apart from the Lord we have cause to be shaking in our boots. With Him there is reason for courage.

Temperance, the fourth Greek virtue, means self-control. In the New Testament self-control is spoken of as one of the fruit of the Spirit. Meaning with the aid of the Holy Spirit we can control ourselves. We all have appetites. You can run through an inventory of them starting with an appetite for good food. Controlling them is our responsibility. Self-control is a primary factor in success.

The Greek root for the word self-control means “to get a hold of” or “to get a grip on”. It literally means to get your hands on something until you are in control of it.

You can’t control the fact people will annoy you, but what you can control is your reaction. If a person angers you, they control you. Don’t give a person that chance.

Self-control is simply that important, and nearly impossible practice of learning to maintain control of the beast of your own passions. It means remaining master of your own domain not only when things are hunky-dory, but also when they are topsy-turvy.

Self-control implies that our self produces desires that need controlling. The Lord wants to help us with this. Therefore, “… the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” (II Timothy 1:7)

Self-control is something God will help us with, but He won’t do it for us. The “self” must do it. It is our personal challenge.

Psalm 15 began with a question and ends with a promise: “He who does these things shall never be moved.”

The four cardinal virtues make an admirable quartet. Hear them again: PRUDENCE, JUSTICE, COURAGE, and TEMPERANCE.