Virtue 1: Godliness

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
⎯Ephesians 5:1-2

Being godly means imitating God in your daily life. Put simply, a godly person is one who responds to daily life activities and circumstances in the way that Christ would. Essentially, this means aspiring to godly virtues (such as those defined in this book) while avoiding sin. First Timothy 6:11 encourages us to “Flee from all this (sin), and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.” These two actions—fleeing sin and pursuing righteousness—are the two “action commands” of godliness that can be used guide your decisions in daily life situations.

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Virtue 3: Hope

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
—Isaiah 40:30-31

Wikipedia defines hope as “The emotional state, the opposite of which is despair, which promotes the belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life.” Hope really comes down to what you actually believe in when the chips are on the table. In life, we can wait, hope, and trust in God or act in our own feeble efforts and waste our time and energy. Hoping in God means holding steadfast and taking action when and how he prompts us.

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Virtue 5: Justice

Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice. Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.
⎯Psalm 112:5-8

Many might believe that applying the concepts of justice in modern times is limited to only those who work in the criminal justice system. But that’s not the case. Modern knights living in virtually any life situation can work to uphold justice. Ethically practicing justice in all things great and small should be important to your life because they are important to God. It does not matter if you are lobbying to create or uphold laws that are just or dividing up cookies between your kids, for God desires each of us to apply justice within our sphere of influence and within the race He calls us to run.

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Virtue 7: Temperance

Everything is permissible—but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
—1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Temperance can be defined as “moderation in action, thought, or feeling; restraint.” To a knight, this means complete abstinence from some things and moderation in all things. Without this virtue, a knight’s life and character will fail.

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Virtue 9: Humility

Young men, in the same way, be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
—1 Peter 5:5-6

In God’s eyes, humility is defined as simply putting ourselves completely under His mighty hand: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10). We are humble when we are free from pride and arrogance. And when we are humble, we are ready and available to receive God’s favor and blessing.

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Virtue 11: Honor

Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.
—Proverbs 22:4

Godly honor comes to a person when they serve and live only for God. Sometimes others acknowledge this honor publically, but this is never a true knight’s goal. His first goal is to live for God and be loyal to the code of knighthood. He lives for an audience of One and thus maintains and holds honor within himself. Then whatever public honor comes, comes. Thus, a by-product of a true knight’s life is likely a good reputation (at least among those where a good reputation is valued), but that’s never his goal either. Nonetheless, having a good name is “more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1).

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Virtue 13: Sacrifice

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
—Matthew 16:24-25

A knight’s way of sacrifice is by using his strength on behalf of the weak. Loosing the chains of injustice, untying the cords of bondage, setting the oppressed free—these are all feats of strength that are used on behalf of the needy. And sharing our food and providing the wanderer with shelter and clothing are acts of sacrifice. We are to spend ourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed—that is true sacrifice. Then God’s blessing pours into our lives—breaking forth like the dawn, with the glory of the Lord as our rearguard, and our nights become like the noonday.

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Virtue 15: Loyalty

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
—Luke 14:26-27

Perhaps the clearest way to define loyalty is: unswerving in allegiance. We are all on different paths in life; when you choose to not swerve from the path the Lord has for you, that’s loyalty. When you have the opportunity to veer from the path of friendship or marriage but choose not to, you are acting out of loyalty. Loyalty can also be explained as faithful dedication.

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Virtue 17: Purity

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure, or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
—Ephesians 5:3-5

Webster’s definition of purity is, “Free from anything that taints, impairs; clear, unmixed.” Applying this concept to a Christian’s life is not much different—God wants us to be free from life-impairing sin (Hebrews 12:1) that grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). He also wants us to be pure in the sense that we are unmixed with the things of this world (2 Timothy 2:4-6; Galatians 6:14).

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Virtue 19: Hospitality

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
—Hebrews 13:2

Hospitality simply means going out of your way to serve and provide for others (e.g., by hosting meals, etc.). While not as seemingly glorious as other knightly traits like strength, honor, and gallantry, hospitality ranks as one of the key traits of knighthood. In medieval times, there were no planes, trains, or automobiles. Travelers who visited your home needed to stay for at least a few days to regain strength and supplies for their journey onward. We need to do the same for others, particularly for those in the family of believers (Galatians 6:10).

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Virtue 21: Gratitude

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
—1 Corinthians 4:7

The knightly trait of gratitude includes both being grateful in diverse circumstances as well as expressing gratitude to God and others. Toward the latter part of the medieval knight era (the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries), many knights acquired wealth and power and developed relationships with royalty. This wealth and friendship with the king’s court brought feasting and abundance in many ways. In fact, part of a squire’s training as a knight was “learning how to serve his Lord at meals: the order in which dishes should be presented, where they should be placed, how many fingers to use in holding the joint for the Lord to carve, how to cut the trenchers and place them on the table.

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Virtue 23: Mentorship

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
—Proverbs 27:17

Being a mentor to someone means providing him or her with wise and influential counseling when he or she is open to receiving it. Unlike parenting, which can be more direct, mentoring is an exchange of ideas and questions (by the mentee) and advice and input (by the mentor). Without mentorship, the succession of true values and character traits will die out. Knighthood and the virtues thereof have only been continued through the ages through mentorship. A true knight leaves a legacy and passes on his virtues to others.

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Virtue 2: Faith

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
⎯Hebrews 11:6

Faith is when you trust God and His purpose in your circumstances more than the resources that appear to be available to fit them as you understand them. As Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith is critical to the knight, so I encourage the reader to slow down and take some time to fully digest this section. Faith is so critical to God that He has gone so far to tell that it is impossible to even please Him without faith: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). And remember, a true knight’s first mission and calling is to please the King.

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Virtue 4: Love

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you, and over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
⎯Colossians 3:12-14

Love—not gallantry or pride—should drive a knight to be a knight and should govern his thoughts and actions. Without love, your knightly life, virtue, and deeds are worthless. According to the 1 Corinthians, without love, your life is reduced to a clanging symbol, you are nothing, and you can gain nothing. For these reasons, a true knight lives with love as his life’s main goal. All of his actions should come from a place of love—especially, those actions that require defending others in the heat of battle.

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Virtue 6: Prudence

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
⎯Luke 16:10-12

In the time of the medieval knight, taking prudent action made the difference between life and death, wealth or poverty, health or illness, safety or turmoil, marriage or no marriage, and children
or no children. And it is no different for today’s knight. Making prudent decisions daily will help lead to a fruitful and effective life.

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Virtue 8: Strength

No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.
—Psalm 33:16-20

Scripture and the world alike define knightly traits like honesty almost identically. Honesty just is what it is. This is not so, however, with the knightly trait of strength. In fact, Scripture and the world define strength in quite opposite ways. If we are “full of ourselves,” we are usually not “full of God.” Being empowered and acting out of our own self-will and drive will usually not get us very far, at least not in God’s eyes. God prefers us to be emptied of our own strength and ready to be filled with His strength. Our weakness clears the way for God’s strength to rest on us.

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Virtue 10: Perseverance

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
—Romans 5:3-5

A knight needs both perseverance and patience. Perseverance is staying with a project or battle until it is finished. Patience is tolerating pain or difficulty. As stated by the Reverend Billy Graham, these two virtues are interrelated: “Patience includes perseverance—the ability to bear up under weariness, strain, and persecution when doing the work of the Lord.”

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Virtue 12: Charity

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
—Philippians 2:4-7

The word used to translate the Greek word agape in most modern English Bibles is love, but in many older translations, agape was translated as “charity” when it was used in a context of one person to another. In this way, charity was defined as unlimited loving-kindness toward all others. In a biblical context, this term should not be mistaken for the more modern use of the word to mean only giving to those in need (i.e., “giving to charity”), although this can be a substantial part of what’s meant by the word. A more encompassing definition of the word charity, at least in the context of a modern-day knight, would be to be charitable (or giving) to others with his or her time, talent, and treasures.

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Virtue 14: Compassion

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.
—Proverbs 31:8-9

Having compassion simply means to possess a deep feeling of sympathy and sorrow for those who are stricken by misfortune, coupled with a strong desire to alleviate their suffering. Compassion is when you stop your busy life to pour into the needs of others. It is an active requirement of any modern knight’s daily life.

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Virtue 16: Truth

I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord. Do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.
—Psalm 119:30-32

Being truthful means being real and honest with the facts, but it also means living in a way where what you know to be true influences your daily actions. A knight who has not yet fully resolved that he will speak only the truth will stumble. Somewhere, sometime, somehow, part of his life will crumble without holding to the virtue of truth.

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Virtue 18: Gallantry

Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the Lord do that which is good in his sight.
—1 Chronicles 19:13

One of the few historians of the fifteenth century to record the traits of knighthood, Ramon Lull, said this about courage: “A knight who is in battle with his Lord, who for lack of courage flees from battle when he should give aid, because he more redoubts or fears the torment or peril more than his courage uses not the office of knighthood.” It is safe to assume that gallantry is one of the fundamental aspects of knighthood.

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Virtue 20: Courtesy

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
—Galatians 6:9-10

Most definitions of courtesy will include simple action terms, such as “displaying polished manners” or “showing respect for others.” More elaborate definitions may describe courtesy as “sophisticated conversation and intellectual skill.” The original term comes from the twelfth century term courteis, which meant “gentle politeness” and “courtly manners.” Regardless of which definition makes the most sense to you, courtesy is something you must see in action—it is not a trait like humility that can just be held internally.

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Virtue 22: Grace and Mercy

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
—Colossians 3:13-14

A true knight needs to live his or her life with both grace and mercy. What is the difference between them? Put simply, grace is getting what you do not deserve (e.g., a blessing or a reward), while mercy is not getting what you deserve (e.g., a punishment).

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Virtue 24: Overcoming Failure

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
—Philippians 3:13-14

Overcoming failure means getting back up after getting knocked down. It means pushing through a difficult and trying circumstance and not giving up. Most movies about knights show the gallantry and pride of knights as they move from one victorious battle to another victorious battle. But that’s not the way of a knight—not then and not now. True knights are familiar with both victory and defeat.

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