Something happened to me once in college that I haven't forgotten. I was nearing the end of a difficult final exam in physical chemistry. Most of the questions I had answered reasonably well, I felt, except for one. In that problem I needed to recall a complex (to me, they were complex) set of integral equations. But to that point I had drawn a blank. Just then a student next to me quietly pointed to the unanswered problem on my exam and offered me a folded sheet of paper. That paper, I realized, had the necessary equations on it. I shook my head quickly, refusing his offer, and feeling a bit embarrassed, I thought through the problem once again. In the next few minutes I worked out an alternate solution that did not require the equations I had forgotten.
My grade on that final? I have long since forgotten. But what I have not forgotten is the suddenness of my refusal to cheat on that test. I learned that it is natural to dismiss such temptations quickly because it's natural to express a love for God.
Income taxes, marital relationships, business dealings - the list of situations where much greater honesty is generally needed is nearly endless. Dismissal! That is what a dishonest thought deserves. No questions asked. No deliberations, no mulling. Just a fast exit.
Where can we find the strength for this? Joseph, of the Old Testament, found it in God. He had been given a position of great responsibility in the house of Potiphar, a high official in Egypt. Potiphar's wife, however, fastened her attention on Joseph and tried to seduce him. Joseph refused the advances, and he did so with no hesitation. ''How ... can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?'' n1 he said.
n1 Genesis 39:9.
It seems that Joseph's decision involved more than regard for his employer, more than job security, or more even than his own well-being, though no doubt these were factors. We can see in Joseph's words his love for God, his trust in God's law and in God's love for him.
Morality is characterized by honest and kindly treatment of others; by trust and faithfulness in a marriage; by integrity in money matters. But it is also more than the sum of these things because it has its roots in God and in God's law governing the affairs of man. We can see this in the teachings and works of our Master, Christ Jesus.
If genuine morality were simply a matter of humans trying to be good without that great divine source of strength, then people might often be doomed to fail in their efforts to achieve good. But the supremacy of God's law, and the true nature of man as God's pure, spiritual image, underlie the ability and the necessity to act morally.
''Moral courage is 'the lion of the tribe of Juda,' the king of the mental realm,'' n2 writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. She also says, ''Moral and spiritual might belong to Spirit, who holds the 'wind in His fists;' and this teaching accords with Science and harmony.'' n 3 The Ten Commandments resulted, not when Moses huddled with his Israelite advisers, but when he spoke with God face to face on the mountain.
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 514
n3 Ibid., p 192
Why do we struggle with moral questions? Perhaps we are afraid of losing something. Or maybe we are angry and want to get even. Or perhaps we're in a jam and dishonesty seems the only way out.
But doesn't it all come down to a feeling of being cut off from God? Yet to act morally blesses us. It enables us to see God's law acting in our behalf. An honest stance, a commitment to work things out truthfully, immediately places our thought in the moral realm where God's law operates. And God's love, working through divine law, rules the affairs of man with loving power and authority.
Joseph's career blossomed in ways no one could have possibly foreseen. Our lives can do the same. Honest living, in itself satisfying and health-giving, leads to growth and to positions of greater service to mankind. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devel, and he will flee from you. James 4:7