The so-called “seven deadly sins” get more attention for what we should avoid, but their opposites – virtues – are also something we should focus on developing and making a prominent part of our everyday lives.
The 7 heavenly virtues are also sometimes referred to as Christian, or Cardinal, and include 4 Cardinal (important or fundamental) virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude and 3 theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.
Prudence is the act of being prudent which is defined as showing care and thought for the future are acting as such. It involves using good judgment and thoughtfulness before acting. All of which requires self-discipline.
In the breakneck pace of today’s society, it’s easy to jump to conclusions, as well as get caught up in controversies. The prudent person reflects and is slow to react.
“In everything the prudent acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly.”
At the root of justice is a genuine respect for people, treating all with fairness and an aim for peace. Justice comes from moral righteousness, knowing what is right, and ensuring equitable outcomes for all. Christ summed it up as:
“Treat people the same way you want them to treat you.”
– Luke 6:31 (NASB)
One definition of temperance is abstaining from alcoholic beverages. But it means much more than that in Christian life. Temperance is about restraint and moderation whether it’s in our thoughts, feelings, words, or actions. In short, it’s about self-restraint and self-control. It is not overindulging in anything, whether it is mental or physical.
“Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,”
Fortitude is defined as having courage in the face of adversity or pain. Fortitude is a matter of mental and emotional strength. Fortitude allows one to carry on even if they are dealing with physical weakness.
The world is a difficult place and life is hard. Fortitude is what allows us to persevere in the world against all things, all enemies, and evil. But amidst all this, the Christian never lets the darkness of the world take away their inner light.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
– Galatians 6:9
The Christian perseveres through faith in God and the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
The Bible defines faith as:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
– Hebrews 11:1
Faith is something the Christian develops through hearing God’s word.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
– Romans 10:17
Trust in God’s word is faith.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
– 2 Corinthians 5:7
To develop more faith in life, read the Bible. Read the prophecies and see how so many have come true in great detail, against astronomical odds, according to history.
Hope is defined as a desire, want, expectation, or feeling for something to happen. Hope also involves trust or faith.
For the Christian, there is no hope without faith. Faith must come first.
God’s Holy Spirit will magnify faith into hope.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
– Romans 15:13
Charity is generosity, either through actions or donations. It is voluntarily helping others, often in the form of money, but in general giving whatever is needed to those in need. Charity is also showing love and kindness to others.
Jesus’ definition of charity was so unselfish that it even extended to those who would steal from you.
“Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.”
– Luke 6:30