Leon Fontaine - The Attributes of Virtue
As you look back, in time. There's a word that we don't use much anymore called virtue. Virtue would often mean, I'm going to protect my daughter's virtue. So lock them up at home, don't let them go anywhere, be able to keep them virtuous. And that word has been changed from the way it originally was intended. In the time of the Greeks and the Hebrews back then, the word virtue had something completely different to it. It meant a sense of excellence in spiritual, in physical, and in moral living. Excellence. And they always connected four attributes to it. Courage, temperance, justice, and wisdom, were so priced by, in the early world. Because without courage, you're not going to do anything.
Courage is crucial. It's vital. Without temperance, you're just this lustful leader, you know, not being moderate, not thinking things through. You're just going after anything you want. So you, you have to have a composure, a self-control, a moderation, a balance, is all flowing around this word we don't use anymore either called temperance. And then justice, well, this word justice, a fairness for the people around us, to serve, to fellowship, to be good, to be kind. It's all woven into the word justice, and it's different than law. For all the lawyers who are here, you know this well. Law is the best we can do on this side of heaven. So have good and just laws. But justice is not law. You know, that's what the law is working towards. And so justice is crucial and then wisdom. You can have courage. You can be temperate. You can be just and just be stupid. And so you get up and just do a whole bunch of stuff. You don't even know how to use wisdom is the ability to surround yourself with wise counselors.
Wisdom is the ability that says the first person always sounds right till you listen to the other side, is a, is a huge issue with wisdom. You never only take your counsel from one side. If you've got a second side, a third side, a fourth side. Wise counselors sit down and walk through way through them all because that's crucial to leadership. Otherwise you're just an opinionated leader which is one step from pride. So courage, temperance, justice, wisdom. These are so crucial in our lives and these aren't male or female. They just are. These are the things that build great communities, builds a great church, builds a great country. And so it's crucial that we understand that. Doing the right thing takes courage. And this is something we've got to understand, is that we think of courage as some heroic person with a 6-pack and a big chest and a sword in one hand. And all of us guys, you know, we grew up with movies.
That's how we see ourselves. But courage is not just violence. Courage is not this. Courage is a part of virtue. And once you understand that, you'll recognize that that the Word of God teaches these four all the way through the Bible. It will break them up into armor. It will break them up into fruits of the Spirit. It will break them up into biblical teachings and stories. But these four weave their way through the Bible all the time. And so they balance each other out. If you get far too down the road courageous but you're not being wise. Wisdom should be there to help you make the wise choices and the wise places that you should go. So this virtue that I'm talking about. This excellence of living. It's not a onetime event. It's a daily challenge. That today live with wisdom. Today be temperate. Today be just for the people that are around you that are hurting and being taken advantage of.
You know, make sure. You know, the other day we were told about a woman who was raped on, on the transit system while people just sat there and no one did anything in one of our cities. And just a week or two ago. And you think, "Wasn't there anybody on there that would just get up and scream at him, or do something? Why do people not want to get involved? Why do we not stand up, step up"? Its courage and being virtuous in this sense is not about just protecting yourself because it's not your area. We must rise up. Every day you are going to have a challenge to speak up with courage, and wisdom is attached to that, and moderation is attached to that, and justice is attached to that. That's why your anger doesn't serve you well at all. That's why emotionally upset and doing things will destroy anything you get involved in because this virtue is what God is talking about.
So let's dive into this a little bit. I like a saying Leo Tolstoy said, "There is no deed in this life so impossible that you cannot do it". Your whole life should be lived as one heroic deed. Your whole life. Not just, "Well, one day I'm going to be called out like Esther and I was made for such a time as this". I believe there are times like that. But what I have noticed about people is they are not courageous in one singular event unless it's by accident. Unless it's by accident. It's like, you know, the mob guy that get all his lieutenants together. And he had a swimming pool full of piranha and alligators. And he said, "The man that will swim the length of this pool can marry my daughter and stand with me in this empire". No one moved. All of a sudden, there's a splash. And this man is blasting. They've never seen any person swim so hard and dive over alligators and push off the piranha. And he dives off at the other end unscathed other than blood in different places. And he says, "Wow, man. That's incredible. What do you want? I mean, my daughter". He said, "I just want to know the name of the guy that pushed me".
Now, let's just dissect this a little bit. The courage, there was no courage in this. Do you understand? There was no courage. He did not on his own jump in to have this woman in marriage. He was pushed. And he frantically did everything in his power to stay alive. That's it. We must be courageous each day. We must walk in justice each day. We must be temperate, moderate in what we say and what we do and how we live each day. And we must seek wisdom. It cries aloud in the concourses of our country. It cries aloud in the hallways of arts and academia. It cries aloud in the hallways of government. It cries aloud in the businesses that make millions and millions and decide so much of our country. And if the church of Jesus Christ will not be there, then we have abdicated leadership by not having our kids believe.
What is wrong with Christians when we train our kids to be realistic? They have dreams in their little hearts that rise up in directions. Oh, they might share this dream in a wild crazy way. And moms and dads say, "Well, you know, I mean, we don't want them to get hurt". So we begin to bring them down to our fearful level. We bring them down to the areas that we couldn't get victory on and we couldn't do it. What makes our kids think they can? Because you can be the coach to make them believe in the God that they serve and the things that are on the inside of them to rise up and be great for the kingdom of God.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, he said this. He's great Russian. He said that from ancient times you can study this, when there is a decline in courage, it is the first symptom of the end. It's never how big the giant is. It's never how big the warfare is. It's never how much the other side has for money. It's never about odds that are so overwhelming. It's never about that. It's simply a lack of courage because courage is such a precursor to faith and faith is a precursor to courage. And until someone rises up with faith and begins to speak the Word of God. Who does God work through? For 40 days David was in the meadows and his brothers listened to Goliath. For 40 days shout curses at them until they were afraid. And when he got up, God did not move till David stood up and was counted.
And I want you to know, in your life stand up with wisdom and courage. Stand up with a sense of decorum and justice. But never be silenced. Never. Because we are the salt and light for every area of our society and where we are silent we will pay the price. Courage. It's crucial. There's different people that have changed my life. Jesus number one. But then as I look at heroes in the past, and as I read and study their lives, their biographies, and autobiographies.
You just shake your head and go, "Where do these people get this kind of courage"? How come Winston Churchill could grow up with unloving parents. Teachers who thought he was dumb. Taken prisoner in war and made an escape. Runs for public office. I mean, he's a published writer. He enlist in World War I. I mean, then he was like outed in the political wilderness and then he's got to come back. He stood up against Nazism in its, in his finest hours. When you look at this man and you recognize how many people shut him down. And I mean, Chamberlain, if you read the story, the former Prime Minister was just trying hard to, "Let's make a deal with Hitler, make a deal with Hitler, make a deal with Hitler. Everything's going to go away. Everything's going to be fine. Make a deal with Hitler. Make a deal with Hitler". And he had a certain percentages of people who are believing it.
And Winston Churchill had something on the inside that said no. And you can listen to his famous speeches. I love them. I mean, it's done and not the language we would use today. But when he talks about fighting for freedom and justice. You know, "We're going to fight him on the beaches. We're going to fight him in the air. We're going to fight him in the water. We're going to fight him in the streets. We're going to fight with France". He just goes on and on. And he's talking about physical fighting. We have to understand the fight of faith. The fight to get up and prophesy through prayer to our country, to train and equip our kids to be a beautiful and vital amazing part of society in all these areas.
You can look at him and say, "Well, I've read the story. I know some of Winston Churchill's flaws and failures in his moments with no courage". Do you know why we like finding flaws in people? Do you know why? Because it gives us an excuse to do nothing. Every time I see a great man or woman rise up anywhere, church, politics, business, that rises had something to say. You're going to know enquiring minds want to know. What are his flaws? What are her flaws? And so we just dress them down. We find a flaw. And here's the thing. You're always going to find flaws. But the only reason that you like to find flaws in leaders who were doing something is just it gives people an excuse to do nothing. They're not perfect. No person is perfect. But this sense of courage. The sense of speak up wherever you are with what God's giving you and to do this in a way that we are salt and light. That we are walking from a position of love. But we're not stupid or naive or quiet.
Well, the Bible says Leon we are a sheep to the slaughter and sheep don't make a sound. It says as. It's a comparison. It doesn't say we are and read it in context. It's showing this incredible trust in God, and at the same time in the same chapter David is saying I could run through a troop and leap over a wall. He's my right hand. He's my buckler and my shield, nothing going to stop me. Like, get into context with your doctrine. Most people who want doctrines of doing nothing from the Bible. You'll never convince them. They need doctrines to do nothing, so they feel good about doing nothing.
Rosa Parks, what an amazing woman. I mean, she didn't just do this one great thing by sitting in the wrong side of the bus. As a brilliant black woman, daily she had to live in courage, daily she had to do the right things, daily she rose up. And God use this to help breakdown the segregation and the things that were going on. Follow these great people's lives and you will find they don't become courageous once. They do courageous things every day. And it's in those courageous things every day. Give Jesus a hand. It's in those courageous things every day that you begin to build up a resilience. Hey, if you want to be a soccer player, play soccer every day. You want to play trumpet, then practice trumpet every day. You, whatever you want to do. You got to be by becoming and work. If you want to be virtuous and courageous and temperate and you want to be wise and you want then do these things every day in your marriage, with your kids, with the people around you.
History does not talk about cowards. History does not talk about people with no courage. History doesn't even talk about the massive humanity who sit around waiting for someone to rise up. History, it shows the blood, the sweat, the tears, and the things that these people do. They're etched in to eternity. They are books written about them, movies written about them. Everybody here including me is so inspired by a hero. Just wow! And it does something to us. We walk out of that movie with our chest sticking out inspired. People who stood up for something or sat down in the wrong place on the bus. People who risked. People who spoke up. People who tried. People who continued even though they were fearful. People who acted with courage.
We are first called to rise up and face our personal fears. Next we're called to bravery. We're called to rise up over the elements, over our limitations. We're called to get up. And if God wants to use you in a way that's heroic, fantastic. But that's not our goal. Our goal is it daily? It's like David. You know, you look at David. Man, a shepherd boy took out a giant. You are so wrong. He took out a lion first and he took out a bear first. And he served that flock of sheep. He served his dad. You say, "Leon, he's also serving sheep". He was looking after sheep for his dad. He served them so well he grabbed the lion by the beard and killed it, it says. He let it be. When you look at these things that David did. He every day lived with this virtue, you and I must.
Did you know that it is courage that allows beautiful things to exist. It's courage that allows democracy to exist. It's courage that allows justice to exist. It's courage that allows families to make decisions about their kids and not some government person telling you what you're going to teach them and do with them. It is courage that let's allows beauty to rise out of our lives and everywhere we go. So we've got to ask ourselves a question. What force prevents courage? What force do we deal with all the time? The Spartans according to history. They built a temple to fear. Leon, that's kind of a stupid thing to do. Why they do that? They did it so that there was always an understanding fear is ever with you. And so they could always handle it. When something rose up, they were always reminded. Fear is going to push. Don't give in to it. Rise up and speak up for Christ. Rise up and share your faith with the people around you. Rise up and if you must and you sense God.
"Leon, it's not a career wise move". Yeah, tell that to Moses. Tell that to Joshua. Tell that to Gideon. Tell that to Paul. Tell that to Peter. Tell that to Jesus. Like, really? We are in a battle against fear. Study it, know how it works. Understand that it's nothing good in fear. That fear is a spirit. That it was absent from the planet until in the fall, they handed it over to Satan. And that is the very culture of the dark kingdom. It always starts with fear. Because fearful people can easily be herded, crowded, make decisions. Anger is always the second emotion after fear. We battle against fear. But did you know that according to the ancient philosophers, that when it comes to the opposite of courage, in their minds it was never fear. Fear was something to dealt with. You know what they saw the opposite of courage? Apathy. They saw the opposite of courage. They say, "Well," Throwing up your hands with a sense of, "There's not much we're going to do. So let's just be realistic".
That is what courage is fighting. Yes, you need to deal with fear because there's a group in there. But then there's a group who in the reasoning of their mind they always feel like, "Well, the church of Jesus Christ, I mean, we're doing what we can. Look at, we're just being defeated. Jesus blow the trumpet. Get us out of here". Like whatever these, these doctrines of weakness and apathy and giving up are. We've got to recognize in me and in you. That one of the most used phrases in the Bible is, "Be not afraid". Isn't God wonderful? He's just encouraging us to be not afraid like a dad. Or is it from God in a way that is saying, "Don't be afraid". It will take out your faith. It will take out your courage. It will take out your wisdom. It will remove your creativity. It will remove your leadership and your influence.
If you are afraid, you raise up a generation of fearmongers. You raise up a generation that will try nothing. Fear is absolutely so horrible. It shouldn't appear in your marriage, your family, your home, your church, in any area and much of what goes on. You know, fear. Well, you know. And then we look for a reason. Be strong. Be courageous. Recognize that we cannot let fear rule us. You know, we live in a world that's really crazy. There's never been a time when the opinion of faceless unaccountable strangers is so important to us. What if they blog about me. Who cares. Well, you know, Leon, there's prices to pay. Oh, I get it. But, you know, we used to listen to wisdom and have people around us to listen to.
Now, there's just this kind of open-ended people that we don't know. It's faceless bloggers and it's faceless Instagrammers and it's faceless Twitters. And, you know, if we do something here, what if they rise up and come against us. Really, so our forefathers in the church of years past gave up lives and we don't want to give up being liked is the number one issue. I want to be liked. Courage. It's an honest commitment. It's a, it's a daily commitment to noble ideals. Courage is crucial. You're never going to get your marriage to where you want it without the courage on the inside of you.
Well, Leon, we're praying and believing God. Isn't that interesting? Me, too. Then why did He give you an armour? If four people get hired by me and they walk up here on stage and I hand one a hammer. And I hand another a pencil and some art, and some artistic drawings. And I hand another a pencil and some drawings with, you know, gradings and beam lengths. And then I hand somebody else armour. By giving you something, I'm telling you already the direction that you're going to go. So a wimpy believer who just doesn't want to be attacked, who believes that faith stops the attacks. No. Faith, and faith and with wisdom will stop a lot of attacks but you can't stop them all. And when they come, you get up and fight with the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God praying.
And Holy Spirit guides you and Jesus leads you by name into the path you need in career. The path you need in relationships. The path you need in finances. The path you need in any area. He leads you by name very specifically. He doesn't lead you like the Old Testament one great big country. He's got principles and directions. But you, He'll lead individually. You've been given an armour. You've been given a sword. It is a sign of the fact that if you want your kids to have a world where the gospel continues to grow. If you want your great grandkids to live in a world and they're not going to just, you know, I look back in history and some of the things that tick me off is how many fights we refight and refight and refight and no one seems to deal with this properly.
And so building is the greatest form of warfare you can do. Build a great nation and then you got the money and the people and the attitude and the stuff that you need. So that's why be a wise master builder as the kingdom of God. You in your individual life. People who are always on their heels fighting. They're always on defense. People who are building are always looking towards the future saying, "Okay, we need to build this into our kids. Build this into our economy as we vote people in". We need to recognize, does any leader we put in have any sense of the future and can build us in that direction? Because fighting and arguing and, it's a crazy way to live.
This issue of being wise master builders is crucial for all of us. You know, when it says in God's Word in Psalm 63:8, David says, "My soul follows hard after You". Another words, you're just trying to get, and let me, you know, trying to outdistance me. He was not going let go of God. He was not going to hide fade back from God. God had a plan and He's leading him. And there's things that are going on that we need to know our God. And David just let, he let everybody know what that wonderful psalm. I'm not, I'm not going to be left behind. Hard pressed I'm hanging out with God.