A FRIEND of my mother's said that during the Depression of the 30s her husband was without employment or income, and though they earnestly prayed, the financial situation did not change. Then one day she visited a Christian Science practitioner--someone who devotes full time to healing through prayer--and explained her plight. She concluded by saying, ``I can no longer hold up my head as I walk down the street--I owe everyone!'' After a thoughtful moment the practitioner asked her why she didn't pay her debt. Surprised and a bit annoyed, the woman replied, ``I just explained to you why we are so much in debt.'' Again the practitioner asked why she didn't pay her debt, and encouraged her to silently ask, ``What can I give others?'' and then to give to others the qualities God has given to each of His children--by living those qualities. She went on to say that no matter what your eyes tell you--that someone is sick, sinning, aged, angry, impoverished--you should realize what is spiritually true of that individual as God's likeness. You pay your debt to your fellowman as you give him his due--the recognition of his spiritual heritage--whether he knows what God has given him or not.
My mother's friend said that as soon as she left the practitioner's office, she silently asked as she walked down the street, ``What can I give?'' Within a few weeks her husband was inspired to start a business that would be a service to the public. It was an immediate success and was soon franchised. Not only were all their financial obligations met but the business blessed many others, those engaged in it and those it served.
When one of the Pharisees asked Jesus what was the great commandment in the law, he answered: ``Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.''1
The Bible tells us that God created man in His likeness and that all He made is good. To love our neighbor is to discern something of his true selfhood as God's likeness. In this likeness we see His goodness expressed. In loving good, honoring good, we honor God and begin to find the promises of the prophets fulfilled, promises of deliverance from evil.
Paul reminded his listeners, ``Owe no man any thing, but to love one another.''2 In this way, he said, we fulfill the law. When we mentally leave our neighbor in lack--lacking health, honesty, justice, wisdom--we open ourselves up to lack because we are not acknowledging God and the good He expresses in man. The spiritual good imparted by God is true substance that cannot age, be lost, diseased, or destroyed.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says: ``Divine Science fulfils the law and the gospel, wherein God is infinite Love, including nothing unlovely, producing nothing unlike Himself, the true nature of Love intact and eternal. Divine metaphysics concedes no origin or causation apart from God. It accords all to God, Spirit, and His infinite manifestations of love--man and the universe.''3
To perceive man and the universe as manifesting God's love, we cannot passively accept the material sense of things. When we ask, ``What can I give?'' we need to realize that all, in absolute truth, eternally have what God gives. We need to express His good qualities and strive to identify others as He has actually created man--not lacking but complete. We can express God's giving to our family, friends, associates, neighbors, and those we pass on the street.
Is all this just a pleasant theory? No, it's provable Science. Striving to discern the true selfhood of others, and to express the divine nature in our thoughts and lives, helps bring that reality to light in concrete ways, as my mother's friend proved.
Faithful study of the Scriptures enlarges our awareness of and gratitude for the infinitude of God and His good. It enables us to give eagerly, generously, and graciously what we owe to each. It blesses us and we bless the world.
1Matthew 22:36-40. 2Romans 13:8. 3Message to The Mother Church for 1902, pp. 6-7. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Give, and it shall be given unto you . . . For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Luke 6:38