Making Choices

TODAY many people in the United States, and perhaps elsewhere, will be voting, some of them for the first time. Often it is hard to decide who should get our vote, especially when all the candidates are similarly qualified.In I Samuel, the Bible gives a wonderful illustration of how prayer can help us. There it recounts a time when God told Samuel, who was a prophet, that he should go to Bethlehem to anoint a new king. This king would be one of Jesse's eight sons. Samuel obediently went and asked Jesse to show him all his sons. When Samuel looked at Eliab, he thought immediately that this one must be God's chosen. But God said, "Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. Finally, Jesse brought in his youngest son, David, who proved to be God's choice. Interestingly enough, the Bible says of David, "Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. So perhaps outwardly the two would have seemed equally qualified. The crucial difference between them was something that could be detected only when Samuel turned to God, to perceive with spiritual sense instead of with the material senses. Sometimes, like Samuel, we first let the impressions of the material senses sway our decisions. We see that someone is tall and good-looking or (short and ugly), and that seems to be all we need to know. But if we are really serious about making a good choice, we do need to make an effort to look "on the heart. Spiritual sense, which makes this possible, is not an abstraction, however. Through it, Christ Jesus was able to look beyond outward appearances to see the actual need when someone came to him for healing. Since the Bible gives us full access to his teachings, we too can live in accord with God and learn to perceive life--and to make wise choices--through spiritual sense. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes a great deal about spiritual sense in her book Science and He alth with Key to the Scriptures. In one place she says, "Through spiritual sense you can discern the heart of divinity, and thus begin to comprehend in Science the generic term man. Spiritual man is everyone's real identity--yours and mine, as well as that of any political candidate. We live this identity to the degree that we are loving, pure, joyful, intelligent, good, and so forth. These and other spiritual qualities are really the basis of all identity, and as we express them we are able to make better decisions and to lead more productive lives. So, as we ponder choices--whether political or not--we can begin by getting to know spiritual man, the genuine identity of each of us. We do this by examining our hearts and seeing what is motivating our choices. Is it negative, destructive motives of anger, desire for revenge, frustration, confusion? Or is it love for God and for our fellow humans? If we are motivated wrongly, we can change our position and try harder to lead truly spiritual lives. Similarly, as we review the candidates for political office, we can strive to see which one expresses spiritual qualities most effectively--the most truth, love, wisdom, or goodness, for example. This isn't always easy, but if we are willing to look deeply enough, we will become better at seeing the real man or woman. Instead of being influenced by advertising or pressure from a political party, for instance, we'll be able to cut through the rhetoric and see those crucial differences that rest in the hea rt. Such spiritually based choices grow out of our love for God and for the truth that Christ Jesus strove to show us.

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