Dollars or deeds?
A Christian Science perspective: The good we do is of higher value than money.
I have been learning that qualities based in an understanding of God’s goodness – qualities such as love, unselfishness, and gratitude – are not measured by one’s financial status. Yet they are truly what bring us value and enable us to help others in substantial ways. This has made me think more deeply about the importance of treasuring spiritual values and qualities no matter how much money one does or does not have.
All the good Christ Jesus did for others in healing them – having no material wealth himself – made me realize that I could do good even though my finances were quite modest. Studying the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key the Scriptures,” by Mary Baker Eddy, showed me the value that good deeds bring. I began to understand that expressing spiritual goodness toward others in need can be a substantial blessing to them, and also honors the life and works of Christ Jesus. Mrs. Eddy writes: “What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds. To keep the commandments of our Master and follow his example, is our proper debt to him and the only worthy evidence of our gratitude for all that he has done” (Science and Health, p. 4).
Not long after I graduated from school and had a new job, I realized it was time to express thanks in a practical way to my parents for the loan they gave me for college. But I was unsure I would be able to make ends meet if I paid it back.
My prayers about income and supply, however, woke me up to a higher realization that doing the right thing could not deprive me of good. Prayer that begins to perceive something of the spiritual good that God supplies to each of His children opens our thought and heart to that goodness and brings us what we need. So I couldn’t be penalized for expressing meekness, love, or gratitude. It became absolutely clear that I should not wait another day to pay my debt to my parents for college expenses. I had just enough to repay them. Even though it was all my money, I was grateful for this awakening, and I trusted that good would come from doing it. Shortly after paying my parents back, my financial needs were met in ways that I could not have foreseen.
To say the least, I was very grateful. I had so much gratitude not only for my parents’ years of patience with the loan and the timing of the unexpected provision, but for realizing that doing the right thing and treasuring the real substance of spiritual values and goodness brought me what I needed.
While our world may seem to be governed by money and suggest that the value of a person is dependent on the amount of money he or she possesses, the teachings of Jesus assure us that we are governed by God. And I’ve learned that God is Love, as the Bible says (see I John 4:16), the divine Principle that governs all of us lovingly. Obeying and trusting God’s law of unlimited good does not deprive us of anything we need. Spiritual ideas, good deeds, and selfless acts toward others are invaluable and without penalty to the giver.
Another statement that inspired me to look beyond “the bottom line” to the higher ways of doing right was this idea expressed by Mrs. Eddy: “The right way wins the right of way, even the way of Truth and Love whereby all our debts are paid, mankind blessed, and God glorified” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 232).
When we are motivated by the kind of love, integrity, and unselfish deeds taught by the master Christian, Christ Jesus, we begin to see more clearly the infinitely abundant and permanent supply of Spirit that comes to tangibly bless us.