“What stopped me from doing the right thing?” We all might have asked this question at some point. Perhaps we neglected to help someone, or we had an angry outburst. We might have even gone as far as stealing from an employer. Afterward, we may have thought, “I don’t know what got hold of me. I am normally a good person.”
It’s a similar question along the lines of what St. Paul asked regarding a controversy threatening to corrupt the Christian churches in Galatians: “who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” (5:7). He then tells them to stop thinking and acting contrary to the spirit of love taught by Christ Jesus and to hold to the things of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Paul added that no evil can prevail over these qualities.
If fear of saying or doing the wrong thing concerns us, we can take heart. Doing the right thing is not a mere human endeavor that can go awry at any moment. Christ Jesus showed us that the power to do good is within us as God’s children, and that we are each linked to our creator. This connection is made evident through the Christ, Truth, continually speaking to our consciousness of our true spiritual nature. Guided by this spirit of Christ, I have found that striving to express these qualities liberates us from whatever would keep us from doing the right thing. It was this understanding that helped bring healing to a situation I was in.
I had a meeting with a businessman who owed me money. Our previous transaction had turned out to be inequitable, with me on the short side of it. As I reasoned with him about the need to correct the situation, he became belligerent and rather intimidating. I saw an obstinate and dishonest man. But rather than becoming afraid, I remembered those nine qualities of the Spirit and that I couldn’t truly be hindered from expressing love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
In addition to maintaining my gentleness, I realized that I had to adjust my view of the man. I understood from Jesus’ teachings that, in truth, this man was a child of God – full of goodness and meekness. When I recognized this, the tone of our conversation changed completely. He returned my money and agreed that it was the right thing to do. As we parted, I felt a spirit of understanding between us, unified in a common bond of goodness.
The desire to do the right thing in every instance in our lives is the spirit of Christ within us, impelling us to do good and not evil. Commitment to the things of Spirit gives us the power to stay the course and experience healing. The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, explains: “‘God is Spirit;’ and we can only learn and love Him through His spirit, which brings out the fruits of Spirit and extinguishes forever the works of darkness by His marvellous light” (“Rudimental Divine Science,” p. 4).