The Thought for the Day – Will Durant

He had the courage to defy his enemies because he did not have the intellect to doubt his truth. He was what he had to be to do what he had to do. – Will Durant, The Story of Civilization: The Reformation


Will Durant (1885-1981) is another writer who does not need an introduction to regular readers of this feature. Durant not only does a brilliant job of chronicling the wisdom of others, but he dispenses more than his share of wisdom as well. Of course, his eleven volume Story of Civilization is found in libraries of serious readers, but casual readers will find Durant worth the work he demands of his readers.

Today’s Thought is about Martin Luther (1483-1546), the singular figure of the Protestant Reformation. Luther was a German monk who had the nerve to challenge established traditions, teachings and practices of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church bears his name.  He also translated the Bible into German, which had a profound effect on the German church, culture and language.

…he did not have the intellect to doubt his truth.

None of us should have the intellect to doubt our truth. If we do, we’re spending too much time reacting to outside influences and not enough time living from the inside out. Every single one of us was issued certain and assorted talents at birth and these form the foundations of our truth. If we are going to make our time serve us, we must see to it our time is spent getting the most out of our talents. When we do this, we have cut the very core of our truth, one of life’s great prizes. 

He was what he had to be to do what he had to do…

Martin Luther was not a complicated man. He was smart, irascible, patient and stubborn and he had a vision for how he was to spend his time on this planet and he spent his time doing those things. Since those things involved showing no small amount of courage at momentous times so we still talk about Luther four-and-a-half centuries after his death.

Living down the ages isn’t for everybody. Most of us won’t, of course, but that doesn’t mean Luther’s life cannot be an example for us. We all have a purpose for our time here and we have an obligation, to ourselves, mainly, but to others, too, to be what we have to be to do what we have to do.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Gaylon began stockpiling quotes in 1988.

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