This semester we are talking about intellectual character and its virtues. Intellectual character is the thought process behind every decision we make. Last week, we talked about what some think is the most important intellectual virtue–intellectual courage. Intellectual courage helps you to find the truth and to live out that truth.
Today we will look at two examples of heroes who demonstrated intellectual courage. In Daniel 1:5-9 we have the story of how Daniel has the courage to stand up for what’s right, and to stand up for his beliefs. Let’s read it:
“The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel…”
Here is Daniel in another country that is not his own, with people he does not know, and beliefs that are not his thoughts. But, because of the intellectual courage he had instilled as a boy and young man, he is able to stand up for his beliefs. He had a diet that God told him to stick to, and he wasn’t going to change the diet for any reason.
Someone appointed by the king comes to take care of them and teach them and get them ready to serve the king. And they bring food from the King’s table. No one can refuse to eat the King’s food because it makes the king feel bad! But, Daniel stands up for his beliefs and says he cannot eat that. Wow!
What courage he has to stand up for his beliefs about what God said to him! The last verse in our passage says, “Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel.” Because Daniel stood up for what God had told him, he was protected and shown favor by God.
Likewise, when we know that we should stand up for our beliefs and what we know is true, we have intellectual courage. Let’s look at another example.
There is an Annapolis student named Bryn. Some of you know her and are related to her or have heard of her. For those of you who do not know her, let me describe her for you. She is in 9th grade and she runs track. And boy, is she fast! Last year when she was in 8th grade, she was 2nd in the 100, 1st in the 200, and 1st in the triple jump–against high school girls that were 2,3, and even 4 years older than her. Yesterday, she was at practice and she did something that took courage.
Who knows Selah? Selah is my daughter and some here know Selah, are related to Selah, or have heard of Selah. For those of you who don’t know Selah, let me describe her for you. Selah is in 5th grade and loves to help people. And boy, does she smile! She helps her family and helps at church and always with a smile. But when I told her we were all going to run a 5k as a family, she smiled and said, “Why?”
She wasn’t that excited about it, but what she has been doing over the last two weeks is running on the field when I have practice. She is getting better, and every time I see her running she has a smile because she loves to smile, even though she doesn’t like to run too much. But she still smiles!
Yesterday, when the track team was told to run three cool down laps, I looked up and I saw Selah struggling a little because she had already run a lot, but she still kept running. And then I saw Bryn pull up next to her and proceed to run with Selah for the entire three laps, as everyone else passed them up. This was at the end of practice when everyone was tired, everyone was sore, everyone was trying to get done and be finished. And yet, here Bryn ran with Selah to help her finish. She saw Selah struggle and had the intellectual courage to stay with Selah the whole way without worrying about herself and how tired she was or how sore she was or how she just wanted to finish.
In the car yesterday on the way home, Selah said not only did Bryn run with her, but Bryn also encouraged her to keep running, keep going, saying “We are almost done.” And with a big smile Selah said, “I like that!”
Can you see a time for your intellectual courage to stand up for what’s right and true? Are there times when you see someone who is hurting or feeling bad? Do you have the courage to forget about yourself and to do something for someone else? How about when all the people around you are being mean to someone, do you have the courage to stand up for them?
How about at PE or recess, when there is a game being played and you want to win so bad–do you cheat, do you get mad if you lose, or do you show the intellectual courage to do your best, be a good sport, and love everyone on your team and the other team?
Today and all during the week, I challenge you to look for ways you can stand up for what is right. Look for the truth that explains how we are to stand up in the face of strangers and stand for the truth of God! Look for ways you can help people! Look for ways you can strive to do your best! Just like in the example with Daniel, when we have the courage to stand for what’s right, stand for others, and stand for truth, we will be able to have courage in all circumstances and know the truth–that God stands with us!