Tuesday, January 03, 2006


"Non est huius animus in recto, cuius acta discordant."

- Seneca's Moral Epistle XXXIV

"A man's acts are out of harmony where his spirit is not straight."

Christians always seem to struggle with the relationship between faith and works. Seneca provides a simple proverb for those who struggle thusly. Discordant acts flow from a crooked spirit. Harmonious acts flow from a spirit that is harmonious.
For the Christian, "harmony" and "discordance" are not harmony with the principles of nature, as for the Stoic, but harmony with the Torah, the Law, the eternal Will of God. The principle is the same, however: the acts of a man follow his spirit. As Jesus said, "For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'" (Mark 7:21-23)
What can we learn from Seneca? Cut through the rhetoric with simplicity. Evil deeds follow from an evil spirit. Obedience follows faith. Examine yourself and see the discordant acts for what they are and you will see that your spirit is crooked. The handwriting is on the wall for all of us, no matter our creed. Seeing that you have a crooked spirit, be confident that the Christ came to mercifully save all such crooked spirits:
When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
(Matthew 9:11-13)

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