Riches were in the house, all the time

A Christian Science perspective.

Riches! What are they? Where are they? News stories sometimes tell about individuals, or city, state, or national governments, which had been lacking in resources, that have discovered within their home, land, or coffers, “hidden riches” – funds or supplies they didn’t know they possessed. All of a sudden, instead of looking outside themselves for good, they found what they needed in their own “house.”

These riches didn’t appear overnight or even as some miracle, but when thought changed from looking outward to inward, supply was discovered to have been there for quite a while. All, or at least a lot of what they needed, had always been present – or in the “house” – so why was it not “seen” and being used for the good of those who needed it?

Don’t we often look outside ourselves for riches – to our job, to the government, to our friends – for money, health, companionship, the “right” job, or recognition for our achievements? I’ve found that when I’m willing to look in my house – my consciousness – for God’s riches, I find them – and can use them as resources. The Bible says that wisdom cries out for us to listen, that righteousness and understanding are the durable riches, that wisdom and understanding cause those that love them to “inherit substance ... and ... will fill their treasures.” And finally, “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 8:18-21; 10:22).

Recently I was reminded of the story in the Bible of the prophet Elisha asking a widow, who was concerned about her creditors, “What hast thou in the house?” (II Kings 4:2). She had one pot of oil, which, by following the wisdom and instruction of Elisha, she was able to sell. She paid all her creditors and was supplied with all she needed.

Then came the thought from a recent Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on “Substance,” which talked about the riches of wisdom and knowledge and how they instruct and counsel men and are “full of riches” (see Psalms 104:24).

I had an experience myself that instructed me in a similar way. In my previous marriage, my husband and I were musicians. Early in our marriage and careers, we always seemed to be waiting for the phone to ring to assure us that we had jobs to supply our needs. I was in charge of family finances, and many times I sat down and wrote checks watching with dismay as the amount in the check register got lower and lower.

One day, I looked at the check register differently. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote in her life-changing book, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “A false sense of life, substance, and mind hides the divine possibilities, and conceals scientific demonstration” (pp. 325-326). My sense of substance, supply, had been based on something out there that I needed to get, and the riches that I already had – intelligence, wisdom, creativity, trust in God’s goodness – were being hidden by a bunch of numbers.

So after realizing that, each time I wrote a check, I thanked God that we had enough in the house to pay that bill. When I finished paying bills, even if I saw only $10 in the register, I thanked God for His provision for that day, and never again saw the bank account as depleted but as having all that was needed at the time. God, Mind – divine intelligence – has provided each of us with untold riches, which we can mentally “mine” and use to overcome whatever difficult condition we’re facing.

We need to dig deep into thought, and learn how to use the riches in our house, among which are wisdom, understanding, intelligence, and willingness to follow God’s direction and try something different. These are qualities that have always been available to each of us. They are the first treasures we have, and they enable us to use the treasures made visible in productive and helpful ways for others and ourselves on a daily basis. Go on a treasure hunt and see what you already have in your house.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.