MOST people tend to think of things as substantial and thoughts as insubstantial. But if they make things the sole yardstick for measuring prosperity and happiness, both will seem precarious, because things can be depreciated or lost at any moment through changing conditions. Is there no other criterion by which we can judge our progress and assess our prospects? One way is to pay more attention to how we think about the things, which is the real governing factor. What kind of thoughts are we expressing? Are they motivated by materialistic standards, perhaps downward-pulling traits like acquisitiveness, envy, greed, fear? Or have they a substantial spiritual undertone of wisdom, perception, selflessness, trust in God? These qualities can never be depreciated or devalued, and they have an infinite capacity for development in satisfying and lasting achievements.
This is the standpoint Christ Jesus urged his followers to adopt when he said to them in the Sermon on the Mount, ``Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.'' He said further, ``Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.''1
Jesus' teachings weren't austere, suggesting that we be deprived of good. On the contrary, they point to the only true source of good and urge us to purify our concept of what constitutes a treasure. The kingdom of God that he spoke ofis a state of spiritual consciousness, of thought governed by God, the one divine Mind, the source of all sound thinking. Man, as God's spiritual image and likeness, reflects the one Mind, and the ideas emanating from this Mind are the real treasures. An understanding of this enables us to maintain order and harmony in our lives.
We discovered something of this years ago when we had to leave the country in which we had been living because of the political situation. It seemed impossible to sell the house we had built there, since no property was changing hands. So we rented the house and hoped that things would soon improve. As time went on, however, it became quite clear that this wasn't the case.
At this point I started to think in terms of thoughts rather than things, as far as the house was concerned. I remembered a passage written by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science: ``The categories of metaphysics rest on one basis, the divine Mind. Metaphysics resolves things into thoughts, and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul.'' She continues, ``These ideas are perfectly real and tangible to spiritual consciousness, and they have this advantage over the objects and thoughts of material sense, -- they are good and eternal.''2
So I began to distinguish between the substantial qualities of usefulness, beauty, and comfort that had gone into the building of the house, and the material structure itself. I saw that we didn't prize the material possessions for themselves or for the status they might confer, but for the true spiritual substance they pointed to. I saw too that the house was needed by somebody else if it wasn't to be wasted, and I was quite willing to surrender it.
In a very short time -- just long enough to get an airmail letter -- I heard from a friend who was still living in the country we had left. She told me that her brother was getting married and would very much like to buy our house if it was still available. So with no agents, no advertisements, and no haggling over money, the house was sold.
Needless to say, this experience had meaning beyond the selling of a house. It showed us how much a change of thought can do in any circumstance when we exchange ``the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul.''
1Matthew 6:19-21, 33. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 269.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: The things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. II Corinthians 4:18