If you’re tempted to cheat

When opportunities arose to cheat on an exam, today’s contributor, who’d been struggling at school, was tempted. Instead, considering God as the source of limitless intelligence inspired her to take the honest path and ultimately find that “putting our trust in God always gives us what we need – without cheating.”

While I was in high school, my family moved from our home in England to another country for a year. This meant a change to what I was learning in school, and I found myself falling way behind, as I didn’t have the same academic background as my new schoolmates.

I worked so hard to get my grades up, but I was barely passing most classes, and a countrywide exam was coming up. Exhausted, I knew something had to change.

I began to pray, which I’d found helpful in tough situations before. One evening I came across these words that God speaks to Joshua in the Bible: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Joshua 1:5). I thought of what I knew of the story of Moses, which included bringing the Israelites out of slavery, parting the Red Sea, and supplying food and water in the desert.

I realized that if Moses could depend on God for all that, certainly I could rely on Him too. God’s nature is infinite, which means that He provides us with all we need, including intelligence, guidance, peace, and clarity.

Before the exam, as I sat on a staircase to study, I overheard some of my peers talking about an aspect of the subject I didn’t know anything about. I asked if they could explain it to me, and they did.

After we spoke, I sat outside a classroom to study further. In the classroom were two more of my friends talking about something else I had no recollection of learning, so I asked them about it. By this time, I was pretty excited. I had been praying for God’s guidance, and here it was, coming to me in the most unexpected way. After that, I went and found another place to study and again had a similar interaction.

When I sat down to take the exam, I noticed that all of the things I’d learned just minutes before were on the test. This totally removed any fear of failure. I felt I’d glimpsed the truth of this statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science: “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 494).

Partway through the exam, the teacher left the room. My peers started talking among themselves to try to figure out the correct answers. The thought came to me, “It’s not your fault if you overhear something you’re not meant to!” There were still a few questions I was struggling with, and I was tempted to believe that maybe this was another way God was helping me out.

However, I recalled that in Christian Science another name for God is Truth. Divine Truth could never work through dishonesty. Science and Health explains: “Honesty is spiritual power. Dishonesty is human weakness, which forfeits divine help” (p. 453). With that, the temptation to cheat left, and I made a conscious effort to tune out my classmates’ discussion.

Minutes before the exam was to end, the teacher, who had at this point returned to the classroom, offered us extra time to finish the test. Again, I recognized this as dishonest (this was a countrywide exam in which every student was supposed to be taking the exam under the same conditions), so even though I felt as if I could do with some extra time, I stood up at the end of the hour and walked out of the room, alone.

The feeling of divine Love loving me that I experienced when I left the classroom was such a sweet, powerful reassurance that I had done the right thing.

Later, I found out that I’d passed the test with a better grade than I expected. More important, though, I gained a deeper understanding of how putting our trust in God always gives us what we need – without cheating.

The strength of divine Truth supports each one of us in trusting God as the source of infinite intelligence, which we can never be separated from for a moment. God’s love will never fail us. As we come to understand this, the feeling that cheating is just “the norm” can fade, and there will be healing.

Adapted from an article published in the Q&A series of the Christian Science Sentinel’s online TeenConnect section, Nov. 3, 2016.

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