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Being Honest with God
SAMUEL GREENWOOD, CSB

 
         Because that which we call God cannot be seen with the eye or touched with the hand, and is in no way materially recognizable, mankind as a rule have come to think of Him as altogether without the range of earthly experience. For this reason He does not seem to them to be as real and appreciable as their fellow men with whom they associate; while so-called material law, acknowledged to be the cause of human discord and decay, seems, even to the average Christian, to be more potent and operative than the law of omnipotent Spirit. Because of this inability to relate God to their daily life, men fail to grasp the reality of their own relation to Him, and its responsibility, as clearly as they do, for instance, the relation existing between employer and employee. Hence the idea of honesty with respect to one's obligations to God is seldom held with the significance of the word as used in general conversation, and one frequently finds men who are scrupulously exact in their business dealings, who would scorn the suggestion of dishonesty in a financial sense, careless or indifferent in the matter of being equally exact and honest in meeting their obligations to the recognized divine source of their being.

         This may be seen, for example, in the comparatively light value usually placed upon the time set aside for devotional purposes, or for spiritual study and refreshment. Without compunction or protest we allow the call of ease or pleasure, business or society, to rob us in this respect, not realizing that such an attitude on our part is in the nature of robbing God, who is rightfully entitled to all the time necessary for mankind to become acquainted with Him. If we acknowledge the claims of God, we should at least be as honest in the endeavor to meet them as we are to meet the lesser claims growing out of our present environment; yet how often do we prefer to forfeit the desired pleasure or the material gain, rather than lose the opportunity to learn a little more of the divine reality of being? If we could, for a moment, think of God in the light of a personal employer, and that we are in His service as one man may be obligated to another, we would see the dishonesty of using His time for selfish or unprofitable purposes. Considering God's demands to be as binding as those of an earthly master, how can we presume to excuse our remissness on the ground that our worldly interests do not leave us sufficient time to attend to His requirements?

         Shall we say, then, that God's demands are less binding upon us because He is divine Principle instead of a finite person? Is He less real, less important, less actually present because we do not hear a voice or see an outlined form? Because God is divine good, Spirit rather than a material presence; because He is infinite Mind instead of a limited sense of being expressed by matter; because He is the source of all real life and intelligence, of all that is worthy and eternal, is He to be less esteemed than the personality of a frail, sinning mortal, less to be relied upon than the deductions and opinions of human belief? Are the incidents of the passing human dream of chief importance, that we should ever allow them to overshadow our interest in the real and eternal? Are material things preeminent in our affections that we should ever place them before the spiritual, while the latter is made to wait upon our time or convenience? Here, as in other things, honesty means consistency, conformity to an accepted standard; it is the essential of truthfulness. It should be obvious that one cannot be honest in his Christian profession, any more than he can be honest in his business profession, without absolute sincerity, and religion must be established upon this basis to benefit fully the individual and the community.

         It is well to remember that our attitude and conduct in these matters concern ourselves only, since, as the author of the book of Job points out, it can be nothing to God whether mortals choose to be righteous or not. Neither the supposition that there is a power besides God, nor mankind's obedience to that supposition, affects the fact of God's allness. While it means everything to us what our concept of God is, and whether we are faithful to that concept, what God is, He is always. It were impossible for Truth to be affected by the mistakes of mortals. The vital point for us is: Are we, in our own consciousness, honest to our conviction that God is good, that He is Love, and that He is the only power? Do we obey God's laws as scrupulously as we do the laws of our land? and are we as anxious and diligent to increase our knowledge of God as we are to increase our material possessions? If not, are we really honest to our avowed beliefs as Christians? Is it not possible that we may be guilty of omissions in our religious practise, or of a laxity in our spiritual allegiance, such as we would not think of being guilty of in our business or other relations?

         The true test of fidelity to divine Principle is not in anything one can say, but in its effect upon character and conduct. If we believe that God is Love, and if our supreme desire is to serve Him, it must mean that divine Love is our God, a more significant and personal way of putting it. When divine Love is our God, our acknowledged origin and being, our only power, love will characterize all our thoughts and actions. To be honest cannot mean less than this, though human sense would fain argue that, even though we would be known as Christian Scientists, we are not required to devote ourselves wholly to that high purpose and ideal. Such an argument is nothing but evil, for it is plain that no one's happiness or prosperity could suffer in any degree through his effort to express love to all.

         The Christian's evident duty and privilege, as well as joy, is to be loving and kind and just under all circumstances. Selfish human policy might sometimes suggest an easier way, the opinions of friends may decide that some less Christlike course would be excusable, while our own conscience may be silent as to a lapse from love in certain instances; but infinite Love makes no concessions to human wilfulness or weakness. Nothing human or mortal can lower the standard of perfection. A Christian Science teacher or practitioner, or some trusted friend, may decide that one is justified in such or such a course; but human wisdom cannot make a wrong thing right, nor absolve one from the consequences of taking a wrong position. Unless our course is prompted by love for the neighbor, it does not meet the divine requirement, no matter who may excuse our conduct. Unless we are rendering love for hate as well as love for love, we are not honest to our concept of God as Love, and not Christian Scientists in the true sense.

         Honesty, even in human affairs and according to the human standard, calls for constant uprightness. It is not provided that one can be honest at one time and not at another, and still retain the reputation for honor and integrity. Most of us are willing to serve God at convenient times, but occasional goodness does not meet the human demand, and we certainly cannot expect it to meet the divine. We cannot honestly look to receive the full reward of righteousness if we are true to God only a part of the time, any more than one would expect his employer to overlook occasional thefts, idleness, or indifference to his interests. But it virtually amounts to this if we think we can go on being less than loving, just, and good in all our business, social, family, and church relations, and still pass with God for loyal Christian Scientists, the exponents of the truth that good is infinite. "Insubordination to the law of Love even in the least, or strict obedience thereto," Mrs. Eddy writes, "tests and discriminates between the real and the unreal Scientist" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 119).

         Let us begin to learn that we cannot make our own terms in the working out of our salvation, nor profitably slight this work, but that we must cover every point in that process up to the attainment of conscious perfection. It remains with us to be at least as honest with God as with men, to be as observant of the divine law as of the human, and to value the approval of God as sincerely as we do the smiles of our friends. Divine Principle, Love, must be our guide and government at all times, in all our thoughts, in all our dealings, problems, and relationships, if we are to be faithful servants and merit the Father's "Well done."

 

"Being Honest with God" by Samuel Greenwood, CSB
Christian Science Sentinel, November 30, 1912


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