IN the Bible we read, ``Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.''1 Inventions? Although I had read this verse many times, at first I really didn't see its relevance for me. I realized, of course, that in its Biblical context inventions refers to less-than-upright behavior: ``the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness.''2 But since I didn't see myself as wicked, or more than mildly foolish--certainly not mad--what did the verse mean to me?
Then I came upon this intriguing comment about ``many inventions'' in a Bible commentary: ``From the Fall of Eden there has been a continued display of manifold ingenuity to thwart God's benevolent purposes for man.''3 Here was my meaning.
I suspected that my own human will sometimes interfered with God's purpose for me. So in my case human will could be considered a purpose-thwarting ``invention.'' And when I thought more about it, I had to admit that impatience, selfishness, and several other unpleasant traits were also ``inventions'' I had been taken in by.
Clearly, such attitudes can ``thwart God's benevolent purposes,'' get in the way of our knowing Him better and finding deeper fulfillment in our lives. So what should we do?
Christian Science teaches that despite the limitations and despair that often constitute one's view of life, it is possible to experience peace of mind, health, joy, fulfillment. We progressively do so through prayer, through humble spiritualization of thought, daily and hourly. And as we accomplish this--even though it may be just a little at a time--we are actually being the upright man God made. We are expressing in our own way some of the Christly qualities that enabled Jesus to heal and uplift others.
Don't we all need to do more being and less inventing? But how? By rejecting as consistently as we can the materialistic concepts that would take over our thinking. Even in the face of what appears to be an irritable, selfish, impatient, and thoroughly unchristlike person (us or anyone else), we can pray to get clearer views of the reality of man as God's spiritual likeness, clearer views of the fact that only God's goodness, only His purity and grace, have validity. Then, little by little, we will stop inventing obstructions to thwart God's purpose. And we can begin proving this in our own lives right now.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.''4
How can we make sure of holding fast only to ``the enduring, the good, and the true'' when there appears to be so much else around? By filling our hearts with love, by living love in the many everyday things we do.
This doesn't mean we simply turn our backs to evil and pretend it doesn't exist but that we conform our thoughts and actions to the truth that good, not evil, is the only genuine reality because God is good and infinite. Through living love we help prove God's infinitude; we find healing in our own lives and bless others as well.
In his beautiful treatise on Paul's epistle to the church in Corinth, The Greatest Thing in the World, Henry Drummond speaks of love's ``nine ingredients'': patience, kindness, generosity, humility, courtesy, unselfishness, good temper, guilelessness, sincerity. And then he illustrates how bringing these qualities into daily expression can transform one's life.
Try substituting one of these simple expressions of love for ``inventions'' like impatience, criticism, selfishness. You may be surprised at what happens--at how joyful and free you feel!
As we strive to do this consistently, we are being the ``upright'' man God created in His image and likeness--which is the reality of us all. And as we truly live love, we will find ourselves less apt to seek out unlovely inventions that ``thwart God's benevolent purposes,'' and more certain to see these purposes fulfilled in our lives.
1Ecclesiastes 7:29. 2Ecclesiastes 7:25. 3J.R. Dummelow, The One-Volume Bible Commentary (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1936), p. 398. 4Science and Health, p. 261. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48