In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes of four Cardinal (pivotal) virtues: Prudence, Temperance, Justice and Fortitude. This morning I read his thoughts on Prudence. (According to the old writers, there are seven virtues: four Cardinal and three Theological)
Lewis defines prudence this way: “Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it.” He explains that this means while we are to be teachable in a child like way, we are also to be as intelligent as possible. “[God] wants a child’s heart but a grown-up’s head.”
Modern Christian inspirational writers instruct us to live intentionally, but doesn’t this fall short of living prudently? Intentionally simply means being deliberate while prudently goes a step beyond to suggest a use of good judgment and common sense. I can be intentional in my gossip but I certainly would not be prudent in doing so.
I like that word – prudence. I think I’ll try to reintroduce that to my vocabulary - and to my decision making. I think that would be a very prudent thing to do!
1. Wise in handling practical matters; exercising good judgment or common sense.
2. Careful in regard to one's own interests; provident.
3. Careful about one's conduct; circumspect.
pru' dent·ly adv.