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Fortitude (courage) is the virtue that helps us stand for what is right and do it, even when we have fears. Fears don't make us uncourageous, the courageous person knows what they fear but strives to overcome then for God by the power of God. Read below if you would like a detailed breakdown of what I shared in the Podcast. Welcome back to “Theology that Matters.” We are continuing our series on the Virtues and focusing on what has traditionally been called the “Cardinal Virtues.” They are called cardinal, for it is from a Latin word that means the hinge… like on a door, so these virtues are a hinge on which all the other Christian virtues come out of and are necessary to truly follow Jesus has he asks us to. These Cardinal virtues allow us to really live out the three greatest virtues (which we will discuss after the Cardinal virtues) of faith, hope and love. We have already covered two virtues, Prudence and Temperance. Without Prudence none of the other virtues are possible, for one needs to know what is right and wrong and why. In a sense prudence (wisdom, knowledge) gives us the foundation for knowing how to be just, temperate, and to have courage, to knowing what is true love, what to have faith and hope in. Last time we talked on Temperance which is the idea of not letting your passions control you, but to control your passions in a way that will honor God. Temperance is not merely just abstaining from things it is using our passions, our God given desires in the right way, in a middle ground per se, not too much and not too little, but just right. Now today we are going to talk about the virtue of fortitude (which is it long time name), a different word could be courage. Temperance and fortitude are both virtues of self-control, we will see the right thing and then do the action. They are different in that temperance is more concerned with our desires and passions and keep them under control and fortitude is about making choices to stand up for what is right and when we do we receive or are a part of God’s happiness. When one has fortitude or courage one will do the right thing even in the midst of hardships or should I say in spite of hardships. A truly courageous person must be willing to lay down their life for the greatest good, which is to give honor and glory of God. One is thus to be willing to make sacrifices, even great ones, in order to live out our Christian faith. Now before we get a little farther we have to see the bad extremes that the virtue of fortitude is helping us avoid. One extreme is being foolish or brash. This is where one lacks proper awareness or concern for danger. This is where one would charge foolishly into dangers that could have been avoided. For example instead of charging across a minefield you walk around and get to the other side. This person has no fear, which we think sounds great, but in reality having no fear means one is not going to have a good understanding or right and wrong or what is the greatest good, as we will see later. In a way a brash man is looking for risks or danger, but this is not being brave or courageous but being stupid or fool-hearted. In a Christian sense it would be one who is looking to start an argument about Christianity or religion or politics to just pick a fight without caring for the outcome. In a sense to win an argument but not a soul. The other extreme is cowardice. It is one who in a sense is paralyzed by fear. A person abandons the greater good because they are afraid of sustaining a loss. It is close to self-preservation and cripples the person for standing for the greater good as they fear the loss of a lesser good. Most of us I think would struggle with cowardice in one form or other. Fortitude helps overcome fear or acting rightly in the face of fear while restraining the overly brash or bold person who has no fear. I know that it sounds weird, but to be courageous you have to have a healthy fear, you can’t truly be courageous without fear. We think the daredevil or the person who always takes risks without fear should be the person to strive after. But it leads to stupid choices that harm for one does not care for their life or others. Let me try to explain now why fear is vital to being courageous. Fear is good, fear means that you love something and don’t want to lose. Now we could love the wrong things, but most of what we love or desire is not bad it is just that it needs to be put in the proper perspective. Courage means being able to overcome this fear in order to pursue a greater good. So a good question to ask ourselves is what do we fear? Or fear the most of losing? Is it money, my life, my house? Is it something that I desire to achieve in this life, something that I am willing to pursue? A good retirement, starting my own company? Being entertained, being successful at work? Getting married having a family? Or is it your relationship with God? Whatever is the thing you value most or love the most is the thing that you are willing to sacrifice other things for? What do you value the most, be honest. As Christians we are to value God the most. So losing things for God can be scary or give us a sense of fear because we don’t know what that would look like for us. We need to see God as the greatest gain and then place all our other priorities under that, that is courage… giving up something in order to honor and follow God more closely. When we pursue a lesser good, something less than God, we are giving up a great thing for a smaller thing. It would like giving up a $100 for $1, it sounds stupid to do, but that is what we sometimes do in life. Jesus himself said that it is no profit to man to gain the whole world and yet lose his soul. If we “fear the Lord” all of our priorities get put in the right order, for we are fearing the loss of the most important thing: God. It is courageous to put God first and then let our priorities fall into order, but that might mean some big changes. When God is our ultimate good that we are striving after it makes us courageous as we will fight for the good and be read to act for we know that God is more important than anything else. It means sticking in the hard situations and doing what is right. It is persevering in the good, even when it is hard. If we have a sin that constantly is bothering us and we struggle with it is consistently turning to God for his help and forgiveness. It is loving those in our lives who might be difficult to love for that is what God does. It could be loving our spouse when times are difficult. Lastly I think that in our culture being courageous is standing up for the truths of God. Not being brash and fool-hearted when we talk to people about religion / Christianity, but to stand for truth because we want to see others changed by the Gospel. It is standing up for God’s view of the family or marriage or life. Not backing down because we are afraid to lose a lesser good but to stand for the greatest good. It could cost you some temporal things but you will be gaining, keeping the greatest thing Christ. When we fear losing Christ, we will be brave to live for Christ and His goodness. We will stick through the hardships and treat others out of love. That is courageous, being brave. Here are a few verses that can encourage us to be brave, to be courageous, to have the virtue of fortitude: Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. [1COR 16:13] Rather, after we had suffered and been insolently treated, as you know, in Philippi, we drew courage through our God to speak to you the gospel of God with much struggle. [1THES 2:1-2] Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage. [PS 23:4]

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