SAYING ``No!'' is a valuable skill. We can never escape something we know is not right unless we first respond in our hearts with a firm ``No!'' That's half the battle. The rest is in staying ``No!'' That is, resolutely turning away each successive temptation. Sticking with our conviction on the strong moral and spiritual grounds provided in the Bible will help us win out. Few find this easy. It often requires a life rejuvenated, a spiritual regeneration of thought.
Some might feel that they don't have the strength to stay with their ``No!'' But God's love reward's our sincere effort, persistence, and willing heart with success.
Gaining the spiritual freedom taught in the Bible is labor. But this labor requires our whole heart, not just a certain number of years. That's the message I get from one of Christ Jesus' parables. In the parable, as Matthew records, Jesus tells of a householder who hired laborers to work his fields. He hired them at different times during the day. When evening came, however, he gave each worker the same wages as those who had been hired first, keeping his promise to give each one ``whatsoever is right.'' The lesson for me was that the loving effort we put into our rejection of wrongdoing is what brings success. ``Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart,'' says Jeremiah.
If man were just a biological mechanism, then we might wonder how we could love God with all our heart. But the Biblical view of man -- the one Christ Jesus demonstrated with such authority -- is that man is actually created in God's own image. Since God is infinite Spirit, His image, man, is spiritual. This doesn't mean that man is a god unto himself but that man's nature, his entire being -- our genuine identity -- is spiritual.
Understanding what it means to say man is created spiritually isn't something we'll master all in one day. Again, it demands work. But gradually we'll be able to prove in our lives that man is created spiritually in the likeness of divine Spirit. Because God governs what He creates, man is God-governed at every point. And because he reflects God, man's real nature is full of grace, love, nobility, and spirituality. This is what gives us the strength to turn away from temptation persistently.
A right understanding of life, of man, of happiness, and of health must be based upon this spiritual view of man and on the inescapable fact that man can govern himself as this spiritual view dictates. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Man is not made to till the soil. His birthright is dominion, not subjection. He is lord of the belief in earth and heaven, -- himself subordinate alone to his Maker.''
Sticking with our ``No!'' requires that we embrace our spiritual birthright of dominion. We can't be halfhearted about this, and sometimes it can mean making drastic changes in our lives. But God's love will give us the strength to obey His commands.
Our best companion in our efforts is prayer. As we humbly listen, the truths we already know about God and man -- however few and however simple -- will guide our actions and give us each day's victory over error. And our prayer can help build the foundation for both saying and staying ``No!'' forever. Through prayer we can learn to express more of the spiritual beauty of our own natural worth as God's child.