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From the Fish's Mouth

April 15, 1991



MY young daughter has a magnetized alphabet that she plays with on our refrigerator door. She doesn't read yet, so her words turn out like ``BRXTYZ'' and ``HGYOATX.'' Recently, though, she left me a startling and unintended message. There among a hodgepodge of nonsense words stood the word ``TAX.'' Is tax time painful for you? It was for me, but it is much less so now that I am learning how trusting God always provides a way for us to meet our financial obligations. Tax time can be approached without fear, provided we are open and honest.

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Christ Jesus encouraged compliance with civil law, taxes included. He said once, as Matthew's Gospel tells us, ``Render therefore unto C8sar the things which are C8sar's; and unto God the things that are God's.''

But what about the means to pay taxes? Might this not be one of ``the things that are God's''? The Bible records several memorable instances of needs met through God's love. In I Kings, for example, we can read of how a widow's ``handful of meal'' and ``a little oil'' weren't used up but fed Elijah the prophet, as well as the woman and her household, during a lengthy famine. Or there is the time Jesus sent Peter to catch a fish and take the piece of money he would find in its mouth to pay the tax for Je sus and Peter.

The exchange between Peter and Jesus in this last example is moving. ``Of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?'' asked Jesus. ``Of strangers,'' Peter answered. ``Then are the children free,'' Jesus said. To me Jesus' words point to the freedom from worry about inadequate income that all of us -- as God's children -- can know. Recognizing that God is our Father and that He loves and cares for His children can free us from feeling that paying our s hare for the common good can in any way burden us or deprive us of what we need.

God, of course, is Spirit, and His creation -- including man's genuine identity -- is spiritual. We need to lift our conception of man and man's life to spiritual reality, where they actually exist. The truth of man's spiritual nature is most often what needs broadening and deepening in our own thought. And Christian Science bases reasoning on the factual existence -- here and now -- of this spiritual man. Each one of us can experience, by degrees, this spiritual fact in meaningful ways every day. Our i mproved understanding of spiritual reality leads to better health, steadier supply, improved morals -- a deeper, richer life.

We do need to think carefully about what it is that God, Spirit, supplies us with. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains this point clearly in her Miscellaneous Writings. She says: ``God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment.''

This is more than just nice-sounding words. Mrs. Eddy had seen proof -- over and over -- that what she writes here is a working truth about God's love for man. God, who is divine Love, cares for His creation in practical ways. But it shouldn't be surprising to us that the generosity of God's love makes demands on us as individuals. It requires us to live in accord with the moral standard we find in the Ten Commandments. Honesty, of course, is necessary. And resentment and greed must be purge d away to enable us to discern and receive the spiritual ideas God sends to support us. Our efforts to express our spiritual nature more fully help us to see and catch the right fish -- the one that meets our need today.