Setting the tone

Where we previously lived, mail was delivered to a locked mailbox accessible only to us and the mail carrier. Then one day when the row of boxes was not properly secured, a check was stolen from our box.

Now we are in a new city, and mail is routinely left in an unlocked box accessible to all. I've been intrigued to find that the mail actually stays there, untouched by strange hands. Though it's usually brought inside an hour or two after being delivered, the mail can sit in that box all day without being tampered with. As far as I know, we haven't lost a single piece of mail in a year's time.

Clearly, the level of integrity expected in one neighborhood or town may be nothing like what's expected in another. It's as if the collective thinking in a particular place has set the tone.

Is it possible you and I could help lift the standard in our communities? Could we, as individuals, expect a higher degree of integrity and decency from ourselves, our children, our friends and neighbors?

For Christians and Jews the standard of right behavior is set forth in the Ten Commandments found in the Bible. These rules for living are not arbitrary or irrelevant; they were revealed by God to Moses for the well-being of all - for our very preservation. They embody the essence of righteousness. They guide motives, desires, and affections.

Civil law is often in accord with the law of God. The spirit of such commandments as ''Thou shalt not kill,'' ''Thou shalt not steal,'' '' Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour'' n1 is actually codified in many local and national laws.

n1 Exodus 20:13, 15, 16.

The level of obedience to the Commandments that we expect often hinges on how we identify ourselves and others. Do we consider fidelity to this high standard natural, even possible?

The Scriptures reveal that man is God's own child, made in His image.n2 Since God is divine Spirit, man must actually be spiritual. Since God is wholly good, man must be innately righteous. Since God is Truth, man must be completely upright.

n2 See Genesis 1:27.

Now, we don't discover man as God's image through our five physical senses. To material sense, man sometimes seems anything but Godlike.

To see man as the Scriptures reveal him we need to cultivate our spiritual sense - our ability to discern the realm of divine Spirit. It's through prayer, communing with God and loving Him, that we gradually perceive man's divinely bestowed goodness. To be effective, such prayer requires purity of thought, childlikeness, and persistent faith. We need a willingness to reject the conventional view of things and accept what God, divine Truth, is revealing.

When we begin to identify ourselves as offspring of God, we find that obedience to the Commandments is indeed both possible and natural. This doesn't mean we'll necessarily toe the line without a struggle. It means we'll be willing to wrestle with unrighteous thoughts or deeds and thereby gain a victory on the side of our innate Godlikeness.

As you and I discover man's spiritual nature and strive to live in accord with the law of God, we'll be helping to lift the moral standard in our communities. We'll be expecting more, from both ourselves and others.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, understood that the power which elevates and purifies the human race is God Himself. In the Christian Science textbook she states, ''Moral and spiritual might belong to Spirit, who holds the 'wind in His fists;' and this teaching accords with Science and harmony.'' n3

Our part is to yield to the impulsions of divine Spirit - for the benefit of our communities and the world.

n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 192.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

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