Cheerful Giving

HAVE you had days when people you've passed on the street have smiled at you and you have smiled right back? When everything has seemed easier, from morning traffic to deadlines at work? Often it takes only a little extra effort on someone's part to make a difference.

I like to think of those days as times when everything is in the proper perspective. In a world of consistent bad news, the good news is that we can have more upbeat, productive, cheer-filled days. How? I've found that studying the Bible enables me to be more consistently happy.

I try to start my day by reading from the Bible and from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, a book by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, that helps me understand what I'm reading in the Bible. Once, the Bible tells us, Christ Jesus' experience seemed hopeless. His ministry was drawing to an end. This certainly was not the most encouraging news for him to give his disciples. But as he talked with them, John's Gospel tells us, he said a remarkable thing to encoura ge those disciples: ``In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." What a powerful message that is! Jesus' words assure us that no matter what is going on in our experience, there is hope.

I remember how such a spiritually based trust helped me when I was concerned about my ability to pay all of my bills. Although I had a good position, I had many expenses, including three children to provide for, one of whom was in college. I wondered how I could possibly stretch my resources to cover all of my responsibilities. I had been studying Christian Science for three years, and had come to understand that our real need is the need to know more about God. When we constantly increase our knowledge of Him, everything else is supplied, as well.

As I prayed, I realized that I had all that I needed for that day, and that was enough. God promises us grace enough for today. The certainty that God was providing everything our family needed was so strong that I knew I could freely give of what I had. I decided that each week, before I paid the bills that were due, I would write out a check to my church first. A great feeling of joy came over me. Giving back to God can mean giving to others, giving of our time, giving of our knowledge. It is sharing f reely all that we have been blessed with. Every Friday night I cheerfully wrote out my checks: the church first and then all of the other bills that I owed. Every week I had enough to pay all of my indebtedness for that week. But even more important, I was able to make all the necessary payments with a heart filled with gratitude and love.

Because it is Christ, Truth, that we trust in and know, proofs of God's care are joyous. They show us that Truth frees us from oppressive thoughts, from doubts of demand and supply. Even when the outward picture looks grim, our confidence in God lets us know that all is well. We are safe in His grace.

I like to think of the beauty that we see in the day, the love that we see manifested in our lives, as ``graces of Spirit." In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy points out: ``It is a sin to believe that aught can overpower omnipotent and eternal Life, and this Life must be brought to light by the understanding that there is no death, as well as by other graces of Spirit."

Life is joy. Life is loving even those we do not know; loving them because we know they are God's children, just as we are. We love because we know that love is life and life comes from God. And just as grace notes add to the vitality of music, the graces of Spirit give new meaning to life.

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