The word, in Philippians 4:8 and 1Peter 1:3,5 is Arete, (ar-et-ay) meaning, manliness, valor, excellence and praise. It is strange that a demonstration of this virtue does in fact send out “vibes” that impart valor to others, or a desire to struggle for excellence or praise. This later meaning is the one Winston Churchill had in mind when he wrote:
"Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it, all others depend."
When you think about it, each of the above mentioned, Arete, demonstrations of virtue demand courage. Valor is often associated with the battlefield. A young solider from my son’s pastorate in Avon, Indiana, laid it all down on the battlefield in Iraq. His act of saving the lives of his fellow soldiers resulted in his taking “the whole nine yards” from a Taliban Weapon.
Along the same line, in today’s world, it takes a lot of courage to be a “man” in the truest and biblical sense of the word. “Macho” is not usually true manhood in that it often involves taking advantage of the weaker, the inferior, putting down. Biblical manhood uses virtue to lift up the fallen, stand in place for the weak and inferior, and it may involve laying your coat across as a bridge of a mud-puddle for a lady to keep her feet dry as she walks about this “bridge on manliness.”
People who think striving for excellence doesn’t take courage have never really tried it.
Honesty, truth, standing for the outcast, reaching down to lift up, all take courage, for each is out of favor in any society, even Christian ones. When I was young, who would have ever thought it would take courage to stand up for the life of little children still in the womb? In my lifetime, the womb has become the most dangerous place in the world. It is much more dangerous to life than is Isis.
I really like Churchill’s statement and I pray daily for the courage to be right, to do right, in spite of vitriol from enemies and well-meaning friends. Often I fail.
Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.”
Copyright © 2016 Larry Lilly
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