What to Keep, What to Give Up
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
If someone asked you to give up something you really loved, would you do it? Do we ever have to give up happiness? No, not when the source of that happiness is God. God is Love itself. God does not ask us to give up anything good.
Abraham learned the lesson that God's nature is only a loving one (see Genesis 22:1-19). Abraham thought he heard God ask him to take his beloved son Isaac and sacrifice him, in order to prove his love for God.
Before I understood this story in its true light, I really disliked it! I wondered how God could be like that. Then I learned a fundamental truth: God would never ask us to do anything to hurt one of His daughters or sons. Abraham soon learned that God did not intend for him to kill Isaac. God never had required him to sacrifice his son's life. Abraham then understood more clearly that God's nature is loving. The Bible implies that he learned to give up mistaken thoughts about God-thoughts that would misrepresent God as vengeful, unjust, unloving.
Once again, God is Love. Growing in the understanding that God's nature is only loving enables us to grow in discerning right from wrong, truth from error. To hear God speak. To recognize what He is really saying to us. This brings good into our lives more and more and enables us to be obedient to God.
As we begin to understand God's nature as loving, it becomes clearer that our own nature must be loving also. Why? Because God has made us each in His likeness (see Genesis 1:26). It is actually unnatural for any one of us to express qualities that are less than loving. While this may not seem believable or practical at first, it is possible to begin freeing ourselves from impatience, criticism, hatred, jealousy. How? By keeping gratitude, patience, tolerance-thoughts and acts of love-alive in us. We are asked to give up the unlovely traits, which God didn't make; but God will certainly never require that we relinquish anything from Him.
Abraham outgrew the ignorant belief that God would ask him to do something unloving. As he grew to understand God, Abraham gave up, to some degree, believing that He was a limited God who made an imperfect creation in which something good can be subject to sacrifice.
The concept of outgrowing wrong views concerning God is spoken of in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook of Christian Science written by Mary Baker Eddy. It says, "In conscience, we cannot hold to beliefs outgrown; and by understanding more of the divine Principle of the deathless Christ, we are enabled to heal the sick and to triumph over sin" (p. 28).
When Abraham's understanding of God was clearer, more accurate, and he heard the message from God that he should not harm Isaac, this was an example of outgrowing a mistaken belief. Mrs. Eddy wrote in a book entitled The People's Idea of God, "As our ideas of Deity become more spiritual, we express them by objects more beautiful" (p. 14). What a lovely thought: we can nurture, grow in, an understanding of God, and then express this better understanding in our lives through that which is beautiful.
Studying the Bible enables us to learn about God's nature and to find our unbroken relationship to Him. Science and Health was written to bring out the light of the Bible. These two books are valuable for anyone who wants to help others to grow spiritually, to hear God speak. They help in living life in obedience to Him, which brings joy and freedom.
You need not give up anything that God has provided for you. He has provided you with all good. And His good is for keeps.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.