Last night, my men’s group began to study ways we can live virtuously. As a society, we don’t talk much about the virtues, which are basically the skills needed to live a moral life.
In our culture today, we do a lot more talking about values than we do virtues. Although values can be a good thing, they are subjective and don’t necessarily help us over the long haul. Our understanding of virtue goes all the way back to Plato and Aristotle, with further development in the New Testament.
Just what is a Virtue? A good definition is: an habitual and firm disposition to do the good, which allows a person not only to do good acts, but to give the best of him/herself. Being virtuous means that you should do good with ease, promptly, consistently and with joy. Sounds like a tall order…
Throughout the summer, I’m going to tackle each one of the virtues separately, but for now I just want to get the list in front of you. Hopefully this will get you thinking, as it did my group last night, about where the virtues are in your life. How do they manifest? What role do they play? How can you acquire them?
The Cardinal Virtues
The word cardinal means hinge, so we say cardinal virtues because they are the hinges on which everything else hangs.
- Prudence- Knowing how to do the right thing, at the right time, in the right way.
- Justice- The good due to others.
- Fortitude- Constancy in the pursuit of good.
- Temperance- The control of our passions and desires, especially for food, drink and sex.
- Faith- The Assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
- Hope- The ability to strive with confidence and conviction toward a future good.
- Love- (also known as charity) To desire the greatest good for others and ourselves. The greatest good is God Himself.