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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A life without focus...

"The soul of man does violence to itself... when it allows any act of its own and any movement to be without an aim, and does anything thoughtlessly and without considering what it is, it being right that even the smallest things be done with reference to an end..." ~Marcus Aurelius

I am a lay student of philosophy and have recently started reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (mid to late 100's AD). Aurelius was a Roman soldier as well as philosopher and I am continually amazed at how closely philosophy of that time period reflects that of Christian thought. It is easy to see why Paul commented about people of his day being religious and debating his understanding of Christ with the worlds understanding of philosophical thought.

But Marcus Aurelius has a deep wisdom that we can learn from. Think about what he says as quoted above. A man does violence to his own soul when he lives without purpose and focus in life. To act thoughtlessly without considering our actions and how those actions affect the end is a travesty. A man does violence to his own soul. Wow, think about that for a moment. When we live and act without regard to purpose and relationships we are hurting ourselves, not to mention those we interact with.

Paul tells us to do everything, live and act, as if unto the Lord and to do so in a manner pleasing to the Lord. Paul really says to live lives of purpose and focus, thinking about how our lives affect others and to have an end in mind. Aurelius may have never been directly impacted by Paul's writings but he was clearly indirectly impacted by them.

What about you? Are you living a life of focus and purpose? Are you considering your life, your thoughts, your actions? Are you living with an end in mind? Are you living and acting in a way that is conscious of how your life affects the lives of others? To not do so is to bring violence on your own soul.

While Scripture is, and needs to be my foundation, I think it is beneficial to read the great works of other philosophers and see how their teachings so often align with our Biblical teachings. To read Marcus Aurelius is to read the thoughts of a man entrenched in society and desiring to make a difference. As Christians we find ourselves entrenched in society, but I often wonder if we have the same desire to make a difference?

Are you doing violence to your own soul by living a thoughtless life without purpose and focus. Have an aim (purpose, focus) in life and live and act toward that aim. For Christians, make Christ that aim.

Thinking philosophically,

Lead Strong,

Shawn

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