IS it realistic to expect business transactions to be above reproach? Or is corruption unavoidable in the workplace? Theories about human nature which argue that man is morally weak, vulnerable to temptation, may seem to confirm the inevitability of some instances of corruption. But a spiritual view of man provides a basis for challenging the notion that we can't avoid losing our integrity.
In Genesis the Bible records that God, Spirit, created man in His likeness, forever blessed with goodness and dominion. In truth, then, man's integrity is intact, forever safe from sin. While this may seem far from actual experience, Christ Jesus' preeminent example helps us understand something of our true selfhood and of the power of divine Truth, of the one God, to deliver humanity from sin -- from the awful lie of a power opposed to Almighty God.
Zacchaeus, for example, was a dishonest tax collector. Yet Jesus, Luke records, to the surprise of those around him, chose him to be his host one day. Doesn't this indicate that the Master rejected the notion that Zacchaeus's moral failings had a permanent hold on his nature and that he saw instead his true worth as, in reality, the sinless, spiritual offspring of the one God? The master's Christly view of man redeemed Zacchaeus.
The regenerative power of the eternal Christ, of the divine healing influence, is active today and always. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``Christ came to destroy the belief of sin. The God-principle is omnipresent and omnipotent. God is everywhere, and nothing apart from Him is present or has power.''1
Each time we conform our thoughts and deeds to what we intuitively know is right, with the precepts found in the Ten Commandments and in Jesus' teachings, we're responding to the divine influence of the Christ and so helping to purify society's moral atmosphere.
We aren't all involved in multimillion-dollar deals, of course. But isn't honesty in the routine, almost unnoticed events what gives society a strong moral foundation from which to confront larger challenges to integrity? These little occasions crop up in everyone's lives. Maybe you've had an experience like the following.
A busy store clerk mistook my ten-dollar bill for a twenty and gave me too much change. Automatically, I returned the overpayment. The clerk was thankful, and I felt good, too. A nice encounter, but, I thought, unimportant.
When I looked at it in a spiritual light, though, this small occurrence became significant. I saw better that each time we bring honesty to the details of our day, we're actually witnessing, in a degree, to the divine law that Truth alone governs man. As we identify right activity with actual, divine law rather than mere human goodness, we are, in effect, offering a practical and much-needed prayer for the purity of the workplace. I saw that on this basis I had many opportunities to support integrity through prayer.
What if, however, my encounter with the store clerk had involved not just a few dollars but thousands of dollars? Would it have been so easy to be honest? Is there a point at which we won't be able to resist wrongdoing?
In our true selfhood we reflect dominion and strength from divine Principle, God, and are obedient to God's supreme and wholly good will. That's because God is the one creator and man is the expression, the manifestation, of God. Identifying man with these truths, through prayer, we are better able to reject forcefully the thought of moral weakness and so not be threatened, discouraged, or trapped by it.
Prayer for honesty in theworkplace can help refute the arguments that one person can coerce another into wrongdoing and that wrongdoing can escape detection and correction. In reality, God's omnipotent law of good protects and guides His offspring. The Christ-power is always present to rouse consciousness to individual moral progress and to man's divinely bestowed allegiance to doing right. The need is to realize this fact in prayer.
We can refute, too, the supposition that dishonesty can ever be a benefit. A businessman convicted of fraud, while remorseful, argued that ``he was the victim of a society that puts winning above all.''2
Surely ``winning'' that leads to crime is no victory. The Apostle Paul turns us away from mere worldly success to a radically different view of winning. He was willing to lose all material things, he said, ``that I may win Christ.''3 Valuing the Christ above all else, turning to spirituality for fulfillment, may seem an insecure means of gaining satisfaction to someone accustomed to viewing matter as the medium for pleasure and success. But accepting Spirit, God, as the source of all good leads to a growing awareness that true satisfaction and joy derive from Spirit and that matter-based goals ultimately fail to satisfy us.
It's neither glib nor naive to expect honesty when this expectation is grounded in divine reality. Learning to see more clearly what is true about man as God's offspring equips us to defend and nurture more consistently, both for ourselves and others, man's God-given integrity.
Science and Health states: ``God, the divinePrinciple of man, and man in God's likeness are inseparable, harmonious, and eternal.''4
Aligning our thoughts and deeds with the spiritual fact of man's inviolate integrity is prayer that blesses us and contributes directly to upholding the highest standard of right in the workplace.
1Science and Health, p. 473. 2The Washington Post, March 28, 1989. 3Philippians 3:8. 4Science and Health, p. 336. You can find more articles like this in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.