Getting Ahead?

RECENTLY I was working where the competition is fierce, and people are often tempted to lower standards in order to move forward. There is a pervasive belief in this field that progress is a matter not only of talent but even more of personal maneuvering and worldliness.Of course, this kind of challenge comes along in many a workplace and in more than one phase of life. Moving through such a challenge, we learn lessons. But what kind of lessons are we taking with us? We're often encouraged by popular thinking to become worldly wise and to shed naivete. Yet the most important lesson to be learned goes beyond simply being more savvy and clever in the ways of the world. It goes beyond knowing how to get ahead because we've learned how to deal with ethical compromises on th eir own level. Actually, the most important lesson is that we don't have to deal with worldliness on its own terms through dishonesty or some other form of moral evasion. None of this is to suggest that we underestimate challenges to right thinking and acting. On the contrary, the demand is to overcome evil through reliance on divine law and its just government. A passage from the Bible is particularly appropriate. The book of Micah tells us, "What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Divine law doesn't require us to maneuver our way to success through questionable means. If there is a God who is infinite good and He cares for His offspring always, our greatest need is to become more familiar with Him and to prove His care by conforming more fully to His law. Meekness, purity, honesty, bring us into harmony with God's care, with divine law that guides us safely. To express more of our true nature as God's pure spiritual image is native to us. And such living enables us to feel the love of our creator, to demonstrate that we are His offspring, wisely governed by Him. Amid the pressures of this modern world--the pressure of having to make a living, of succeeding, of needing to be included--it may seem that talking about God's law has little immediate value. But God's law is infinitely more than talk. It's provable reality. The Bible narratives and people's lives today are rich with illustrations of the healing and protection that come as we deepen our reliance on God and conform more consistently to His law. We can't lose by obeying the Commandments, by living the teachings of Christ Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, as best we can, because it's what we're required to do. We're not required to be less than God's image by putting more stock in worldly knowledge than in faithfulness to God and His unerring wisdom. St. Paul said candidly in his first letter to the Corinthians: "If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. The higher lesson we learn, then, from our encounters with dishonesty, pressure to conform, and so forth, is not to lower our moral standard but to build our lives on a more solid, spiritual foundation. This is what we're really required to do. And in doing so we experience the protection of divine law. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, observes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Attempts to conciliate society and so gain dominion over mankind, arise from w orldly weakness. He who leaves all for Christ forsakes popularity and gains Christianity. Clearly, it's not always easy to do this. Ultimately, though, it's the safest route and the only real one to lasting happiness and salvation.

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