There is such balance in Christ Jesus' prayer. I see "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," as an equation of sorts. Look at AS as the equal sign. We are forgiven AS we forgive. We are free AS we free. Mary Baker Eddy summed up the perfect balance of the equation when she wrote, "And Love is reflected in love."
God forgives and we forgive. God gives and we give. The divine Principle of supply includes balance.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy states, “Giving does not impoverish us, neither does withholding enrich us in the service of our Lord.” (79) In fact, the opposite is true. Giving enriches and withholding impoverishes – because if we believe that we are not in a position to give, we may be dealing with the obstructive sin of greed.
All we ever do, we do by reflection! According to Genesis 1, God's man is made in His perfect and good image and likeness. God, the great Giver, gives. Therefore we, the Giver's image, give. It’s not that God gives and we receive. That would be absorption, wouldn’t it? It would imply the need to store up, or the possibility of exhausting, our divine resources. But the Principle of giving, the Principle of supply, is God. And God's supply is reflected in us as His well-supplied creation, reflecting His giving nature. God gives and we reflect His giving, and thus the flow of good continues forever unobstructed.
I believe that this sense of ceaseless giving is ultimately the divine law that is behind the Biblical concept of tithing. A tithe is not a tax. A tax could exhaust one's resources. A true and honest tithe can only come from a spiritual understanding of the abundance of what God gives. This spiritual understanding opens the door to the divine economy where divine Love meets EVERY human need in just the right way.
Remember the disciples' role when the loaves and fish were multiplied for hungry thousands? What little they thought they had was distributed freely. In the human economy, such giving might follow the mathematical rule of subtraction. But in the divine economy, through Christ Jesus' understanding of the Principle of reflection that is God, the result was a multiplication of provisions. Loaf and fish multiplied until all were fed.
And no one was left out. How many disciples distributed? Twelve. How many baskets were gathered when all the work was done? TWELVE. One scholar noted, “When all were fed, when the job was done, they gathered up twelve baskets full, one basket for each Apostle. No waste, but no stinginess. God does not starve His staff.” (Interpreter's Bible Commentary) I love that!
In the divine economy, there is no paltry return on investment. God gives and so we have an abundance to give. In simple terms, tithing is a 10 percent investment with a 90 percent return. Who can beat that in any other market?
Tithing isn't limited to giving in church, although that is a good thing, too. Check out Mary Baker Eddy's inspired take on the gifts we have to give: "TITHE. Contribution; tenth part; homage; gratitude." Science and Health, 595)
Is there any area of human life that can''t be benefited by rendering homage or reverence to God's goodness and contributing a little time, attention, prayer and other acts, with gratitude?
Are you looking for the confidence and spiritual authority that opens your prayers to abundant good? Think about your giving - of time, of energy, of prayer, of service to family and others - even of paying your bills - not, as a burden, but rather as an investment of good, flowing from divine Good, from God, and reflected fully in you.
Claim your fat and flourishing return. You are God's image and likeness. No one and nothing has more to give than you do, by perfect, flawless, unobstructed reflection.
This I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly;
and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give;
not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you;
that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad;
he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food,
and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;
Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness,
which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints,
but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.
The Apostle Paul, II Corinthians 9:6-11,14
This post originally appeared April 12, 2012.
Today's Daily Lift is a condensed version of a longer blog post from a year ago titled "Reflection, tithing and finding the right balance".
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In my experience, church and God’s abundant grace are linked. I am grateful to have learned early on that serving God through serving in church brings out good, good, and more good.
Paul said, “Your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). And I might add, “and if you want to find it, participate in your local church!” Real life, reflecting divine Life, or God, includes the substance of good in abundance and there is nothing like the opportunities to give and serve in a branch Church of Christ, Scientist to bring it out.
When I was 18 years old and living in Great Britain, I was desperately low on funds. With two weeks to go before returning to the US, I was down to my last £85... (To read the rest of this blog, find it here on Church Alive.) LINK IS NOW FIXED
Church is an idea that has been defined in many ways over the centuries within the Christian tradition. For Christian Scientists, church is much more than a place or a community. Church Alive is a web community that explores the spiritual basis and awakening impact of Church.
A woman had lost her job and, being unable thus far to find another one, was in desperate financial straits. She received notices indicating that her utilities would be shut down, one-by-one, if she didn't pay her bills. Moments before the phone company was to cut off her telephone service, she called a Christian Science practitioner and asked for prayer. The practitioner just had time to tell her, "If what you need is an oil well in your front yard, it is already there. Love never leaves you without what you need." Then the line went dead...
What she said to the woman was inspired by something found in Mary Baker Eddy's book on Biblical law and its application to daily living, "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 494)
The practitioner then began to pray.
Her prayers couldn't change the law of God or produce something that wasn't already there. Prayer doesn't change what is, but it can help one to see what is really going on in the light of Christ - the perpetual message of spiritual and divine Good flowing from Love, God, to Her creation.
Love is like a mother who always has what you need in her purse before you know you need it. Prayer reminds us that Mother, Love is on the scene, and gives us a peek at the treasures in Her bag.
These treasures aren't material things. Love's treasures are abundant spiritual ideas that are liberally distributed to everyone in the form that meets the human need. Whether what is most essential is love, patience, hope, inspiration, strength, opportunity, grace, gratitude or any other quality - Mother's purse, the consciousness of divine Love, is full and overflowing with good.
Some hours passed.
During the day, the Christian Science practitioner prayed until she was completely certain that there was no cause for fear. Her prayer showed her that God's law of Love was operational in this woman's case. Then she heard back from the woman, who had a remarkable story to tell.
A short time after her phone service was cut, she thought about what the practitioner had told her - "Love never leaves you without what you need." She understood that she needed to stop focusing on what she didn't have and couldn't see (ie. money in her account). She needed to focus on what she did have and could see. She loved her home and was grateful to still have it. She started appreciating the good around her and expressing gratitude for it.
Then there was a knock at the door.
A truck was in her driveway and the driver, a local landscaper, said that he drove past her home every day on his way to and from a job. He explained that he had been searching for some weeks for a tree of a certain type and size to complete a project for a new home in the neighborhood, and he had been unable to find it in all the area nurseries.
Only today, on his way home from the work-site, he noticed that the perfect tree was sitting in her front yard! He asked if she would be willing to sell it to him. She agreed, and he gave her a check in an amount that would restore her phone service and pay another large bill.
She did have an oil well, right there, in her front yard. Prayer opens our eyes - and those of others, too - to an unrestricted supply of good that is always at hand.
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I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no