Honesty is power

A Christian Science perspective: How telling the truth cemented a tenant’s relationship with her landlord.

“Honesty is spiritual power” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 453). Wishful thinking? Naiveté? Or plain, healing truth?

“Honesty is spiritual power” is an idea articulated by Mary Baker Eddy, who in 1866 discovered Christian Science. These many decades later, Mrs. Eddy’s sentence resonates with me.

I think of myself as an honest person, and I like the idea of being rewarded with spiritual power. But it’s not always a standard people find easy to keep.

It can be tempting to be creative with the truth. Some may feel they have to tell little white lies. Others may feel they need to lie to get ahead.

But if honesty really is spiritual power, can there be a downside to it? It might seem so, but I’m learning that the answer to that question is no. Mrs. Eddy went on to write, “Dishonesty is human weakness, which forfeits divine help” (Science and Health, p. 453). So it’s not honesty that causes problems; it’s dishonesty.

A couple of months ago, I was aggressively looking for a new apartment because I was relocating to a new city for work. My options were substantially diminished because I had cats. I told the real estate agents I worked with that cats are part of my household – and I hoped they wouldn’t ask how many. No one did.

When I found a place that felt like home – after visiting many unsuitable properties – my real estate agent said that as long as I didn’t have kittens, I was in the clear. I was relieved. That is, until I saw the apartment application. Right there in black and white, it asked to list how many pets I had.

I thought about lying for a split second. No quick visitor would ever see two of my four cats; they hide. And I wanted this apartment. Badly. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t lie! I knew that no apartment, no matter how spectacular, was worth my integrity. And I certainly didn’t want to think of myself as something less than honest.

Mrs. Eddy also wrote that “Truth, in divine Science, is the steppingstone to the understanding of God;...” (“Unity of Good,” p. 61). I’ve learned that understanding more about the nature of God brings healing and even salvation to my life. I knew that I wasn’t willing to forfeit divine help by lying to try to get a nice place to live.

How is Truth – divine Truth – the steppingstone to the understanding of God? Seeing true spiritual reality – what God has created and is doing right now – helps us get a clearer understanding of what God is. How do we do that? Well, it can happen in all sorts of ways. One way for me is to get really quiet and listen for inspiration from God – what He is telling me about Himself and about me as His child. Other times, I glimpse spiritual reality when I’m struck by the goodness I see in others. That points to who they are in a way that has nothing to do with what they look like, what job they have, or how much money they have in the bank. And getting to know more about God’s glory and His goodness introduces us to ourselves in a whole new light. Because as the Bible says, we are created in God’s image (see Genesis 1:26, 27). And when we catch a glimpse of this spiritual view, we can see past what our limited five senses are telling us. And this spiritual view removes limitations and brings freedom. There is no downside to embracing this truth in our lives.

I texted my real estate agent and told her that I hoped it wouldn’t disqualify me, but I had to tell her how many cats I owned. She wrote back immediately indicating that now she knew I was an honest person because I’d just told the truth. Instead of hurting our professional relationship, honesty cemented it. And the same held true with my new landlord.

We don’t lose anything worthwhile and right by being honest. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that honesty actually shows us God’s goodness in our experience.

This small example of that spiritual law, which Mrs. Eddy described in her statement that “honesty is spiritual power,” is proof to me of the larger applications of honesty. So much good awaits those who see who they are as God’s spiritual and truthful child.

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