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Courage, Virtue, and Chance

C.S. Lewis argued that “courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”  What he meant is that every virtue transforms into courage when that virtue is truly evaluated.  For instance, the virtue of honesty transforms into courage when one must be candid about uncomfortable or unpopular realities. It is one thing to practice honesty by telling Adolf Hitler in private conversation that you think certain works of Jewish literature and art are beautiful, but it becomes courage to tell him publicly the truth that Jews are made in the image of God, and are for no other reason worthy of his respect. In such a moment, courage and honesty merge and are indistinguishable from one another.  This fusion is forged in the chances for dangerous consequences.    

Courage embraces faith while dancing with the perception of chance. Faith can’t exist without that perception, and courage is validated by its conquest. With every chance a person takes, comes not an opportunity for change, but the reality of it. Every chance taken results in a change, and the avoidance of every chance cements a status quo. Every chance taken requires a measure of courage, and every measure of courage requires a measure of faith. If you want a change in your life, then you must embrace chance, and own any change your decision brings. To grow, you must allow your virtue to be tested, and transformed into courage.

The story of Abigail is one of virtue, courage, chance and change (1 Samuel 1:25-42). In this story, David, with his men, has protected the property of a very wealthy, foolish and evil man named Nabal. One day, David sends his men to Nabal to ask him for some provisions since they are hungry. Nabal verbally dishonors David’s name before those men, and refuses to provide any supplies. David decides to kill Nabal and every male under Nabal’s provision. But Abigail, a virtuous woman of peace, took a chance. She gathered up provisions for David’s men and met him before he got to Nabal. She argued before David that he should not kill Nabal and thus be guilty of murder. David relented. Abigail had risked angering David. She risked angering Nabal. Her virtue of peace transformed into courage as she risked her life to protect the men of her household from violence. Taking that chance saved her men, and brought great change. God struck down the evil Nabal, and Abigail then became the wife of David, a good man.

Where are your virtues being tested? If they’re not being tested, why not? Are you willing to take a chance and keep the change?

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