Contemplating Seneca #50: Righteousness

One of my all-time favorite books that I love to refer to is Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. For some reason, the imagery of that story will never leave my mind. It is a book about walking the path. To make it to the end, Christian cannot deviate to the right or to the left. He has to keep going. Whether you are a believer in Christ or not, this book has a universal appeal that is still relevant 345 years after it was written.

The image I am calling to mind today is that of Christian at the beginning of his journey. He is carrying a large weight on his back, and there is no respite from this burden. It isn’t until Christian comes to the cross that he can unload the weight of sin from off of his back.

The most important contribution to peace of mind is never to do wrong. –Seneca, Letter #105: On Facing the World with Confidence

Far from perfection, I have felt the burden of my wrong-doings. Like a stone laid upon my conscience, the weight has been so great that even my posture has been affected. The only way to gain relief is to make amends. To put the skeletons in the closet is to increase the pressure on the mind. By confessing our sins and seeking forgiveness, we can release ourselves from the yoke of our transgressions.

Wouldn’t it be better to never have to carry this weight at all? How much taller could we stand if we were never held down by our own mistakes? It might be an impossibility to never do wrong, but it is something we can certainly strive towards.

How?

Let’s start with the minor mistakes, the accidents. Things happen. Life happens and accidents are a part of life. Give them the attention they deserve and then move on. Don’t let it bog you down.

But the conscious decisions to do wrong, they are the ones we need to look out for. The conscience is like a muscle. You can put a strain on it, and it will feel the burden. Continue to add a greater and greater weight, and soon you will become immune to the weight (the ominous hardening of your heart).

Guard your mind. Mind your actions. Refrain from wrong-doing and you can become righteous. Not only is this an honorable pursuit, but you will have the freedom and peace that can only be achieved by a mind free from the weight of guilt

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