JIM was a bouncy but thoroughly mature and reliable salesman. So it was a surprise to us all when his wife called to ask if we knew where he was. We didn't. He had been slated to work the local area this Monday and the rest of the week. But during the week neither his wife nor the office heard from him. The next Monday Jim breezed in. He handed in an unauthorized expense sheet for the statewide sales trip he had taken.
When his boss summoned Jim, I mentally braced myself for an explosion. None came. Only the murmur of congenial conversation. I couldn't believe it! As soon as the office cleared, I went to Jim's boss. ``You didn't bawl him out for breaking company rules?''
``Bawling him out wouldn't accomplish a thing,'' he replied. ``Jim's a good man and a good salesman. I asked him not to do that again, and he won't.'' I looked incredulous. So he explained, ``You can work only with the good in people.''
That made sense to me, and since then I've tried to apply that simple rule in many everyday situations. It works like honey on lemon, neutralizing what's tart, keeping fresh and sweet the rest.
That idea of working with the good, with what's right in people, is the opposite of manipulating people to produce a result beneficial to us. It springs from a higher wisdom, from a knowledge of God, good, and His expression of good to us and through us. Because good flows from God, is like God, it has to be spiritual, universal, with no drying up or diminution.
Who would want to see the good in his or her experience go only so far and then stop? Isn't there in each of us a deep desire for good? We crave good, thrive on it. We can't live without it, and we can never have too much of it.
Good in God's man (the real, spiritual identity of you and me) is natural. Mary Baker Eddy, a deep student of Christ Jesus' teachings and the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, points out in her Miscellaneous Writings, ``Jesus regarded good as the normal state of man, and evil as the abnormal; holiness, life, and health as the better representatives of God than sin, disease, and death.''
Jesus saw the good in people. He had absolute faith in the goodness of God, and consequently in the good that God expresses in His idea, man.
The sense of good present in us and others is not something to be got as much as it is something to be revealed. And sometimes we need to work hard to see the good in others -- or even in ourselves. But when we do, the effect can be startling.
Wonderful, we think; that's the way we'd like to be seen -- gifted, good! And it is just as wonderful for us to see the good and gifted in others, be it an unreasonable relative, demanding boss, meddlesome neighbor, cranky bus driver -- because that very seeing-through-to-good is what's needed to nullify the unreasonable, demanding, meddlesome, cranky.
That's when we need to be like a ruler referred to in the Biblical book of Proverbs: ``A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.''
Our eyes of judgment -- our spiritual discernment of each individual as created and governed by God -- can scatter like chaff the ill will presented, by our looking for some evidence of good. At the moment the evidences of good may appear to be very slight indeed, but I've found that finding even one spark of good helps me scatter an offense like chaff and clear the air.