RECENTLY I was on the receiving end of some careless mistakes. (I've made a few myself!) While they didn't have an earthshaking effect on my life, they did cause a good deal of inconvenience, and I found myself giving a lot of thought to the whole issue of precision in the details of our lives. It may seem -- and be persuasively argued -- that an occasional mistake doesn't amount to anything in the overall scheme of things. To be sure, no one moves through life flawlessly. And there's nothing virtuous or lovable about a narrow, picky mentality, intolerant of other people's mistakes. But that doesn't mean that attention to detail isn't a worthwhile quality. Seen in its proper light, it expresses our love for others as well as for ourselves. And love is central to Christian living.
Too often, care for the details simply gets pushed aside as insignificant. But it's not insignificant if others' lives are affected by our mistakes, even in small ways. ``As ye would that men should do to you,'' Christ Jesus taught, ``do ye also to them likewise.''1 Obedience to this Golden Rule is essential to individual progress and salvation.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, once wrote in a message to her Church, ``Seeing that we have to attain to the ministry of righteousness in all things, we must not overlook small things in goodness or in badness, for `trifles make perfection,' and `the little foxes... spoil the vines.' ''2
To be satisfied with frequent mistakes is to act contrary to our true nature, and this can only work against our spiritual progress, even if it seems to have little relation to such progress at the moment. Fortunately, we can do better, and it's natural for us to want to do better. That's because our true selfhood is the spiritual likeness of the one God, the expression of divine wisdom, governed by the precision of divine law.
When we think in terms of spiritual reality -- of man as God has actually created him -- we see that it's appropriate to get things right, not wrong. It's natural for our own and others' actions to conform to divine law. It's natural for man to express the very Principle of the universe, which is God. And this Principle is Love, as the New Testament describes God.3
Our individual care for the details is not inconsequential. Nor does it indicate narrow-mindedness. It expresses the nature of infinite divine Principle and results from a growing perception of our unity with God. Our work, then, should be to strive for clearer views of our actual, spiritual selfhood and of our inseparability from our creator. We gain these views in the quietness of prayer and through a humble willingness to yield to God's government in every aspect of our lives. The feeling of being impelled by God, impelled by Love, is what enables us to handle better the details as well as the larger issues that face us.
Mrs. Eddy observes: ``You have simply to preserve a scientific, positive sense of unity with your divine source, and daily demonstrate this. Then you will find that one is as important a factor as duodecillions in being and doing right, and thus demonstrating deific Principle.''4
We all know people whose example we value, whose steady, reliable quality of thought uplifts the atmosphere around them. This is no small contribution. Maybe we can all do even more to contribute in this way through, among other things, our care for the details. The influence of this greater obedience to the Golden Rule will be felt far beyond our immediate sphere.
1Luke 6:31. 2The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,p. 123. 3See I John 4:16. 4Pulpit and Press, p. 4.