I've been giving the 10 commandments a closer look by blogging about one of them each Friday. This is the last week. We've made it to number 10! If you missed some, you can scroll down for the last ten blogs on the topic.
The last commandment is: Thou shalt not covet. In other words, we shouldn’t wish with all our hearts that we had what someone else has. To gaze longingly at the lives of others blinds us to the good that’s already right in front of us.
To understand this commandment more fully, I like to start with the nature of God.
God is Love itself. In the textbook of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy refers to God as “the great Giver” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 112). It follows then, that Love is the great Giver.
We are all part of God’s loved creation. God is our divine Parent, and because He is Love itself, and we are His loved offspring, He delights in us all equally. “Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals” (Science and Health, p. 13). God doesn't give more to one of His children than another.
These may seem like faraway ideas that will happen someday—maybe one day when we’re spiritual, we’ll be with God and He’ll help us. But, in my study of Christian Science, I’ve learned that our spiritual nature—the only nature we really have—is present here and now. Because we are Spirit’s likeness, our identities are spiritual in this moment. We aren’t waiting to become spiritual. In fact, all of the abundantly infinite goodness of Spirit is present for the seeing.
We don’t have to wish we had what someone else has because... we all have it all. That’s right. Just like on that famous Oprah show where she gave away new cars to the studio audience. We all get it all! Well, Oprah may be wealthy and generous, but not as much as the great Giver, divine Love! What He gives us are ideas, and those ideas are infinite, present, tangible, and meet the human need, right now, today.
Some years ago, my husband was unemployed for a time. Doing without that paycheck for who knew how long was daunting. But, every day we listened for divine direction. My husband went on interviews, many of which didn’t pan out, but we knew that we were cared for. Why? Because it’s Love’s nature to provide for Her children.
Our need was met with intelligent and creative ideas: My husband looked for and found odd jobs, my public practice of Christian Science became busier, we thought of ways to decrease our everyday spending, and therefore, decrease our normal bills. All of this came together to meet our need. We never wished we had what others had. We could see the present need being met and we could feel the promise of tomorrow bringing the same, and even greater supply. Eventually, my husband got a new job, and we also had a new view of how God supplies our need and everyone else’s.
Holding on to the fact that we all have it all keeps the 10th commandment to not covet. Who needs to covet what others have when all the good our divine Father has is right here for the taking? We all get it all!
I'm giving the 10 commandments a closer look by blogging about one of them each Friday. Scroll down for the last nine blogs on the topic.
This week I'm thinking about the ninth commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
You know all those rumors you hear about others? Part of keeping this commandment would be not to forward those on to others. Fake news. Spreading lies about your neighbor. And yes, our neighbor is really everyone. After all, the world is pretty small nowadays.
But, what if the ugly rumor is true about that person? Keep the ninth commandment and don't forward those on either. Why? Well, this is where your spiritual perspective comes in.
Man--that includes every man, woman, and child--is the spiritual representative of the all-loving God, good. You could say that man is God's reflection. Now, when you think about a reflection, you might consider beautiful trees on the bank of a still lake. The lake is like a mirror and the image of the trees are reflected perfectly. The image on the water looks just exactly like the original.
In the same way, since we all are God's image, we must be just as glorious as He is. In fact, Jesus left this command for all of us today. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). Of course, he wasn't talking about human perfectionism. He was asking us to see ourselves and others as God's whole, perfect, and spiritual likeness.
So, how does this fit in with loving our neighbor? To not see our fellowman falsely, we have to look beyond the surface of things and see them as God's image, in other words, spiritually. You may wonder how you would even begin to do that. It helps to take a really close look at the original, God, to see what our true nature as His image is like. I love this description that Spirit, or God, gives of Himself in the textbook of Christian Science.
"I am Spirit. Man, whose senses are spiritual, is my likeness. He reflects the infinite understanding, for I am Infinity. The beauty of holiness, the perfection of being, imperishable glory, — all are Mine, for I am God. I give immortality to man, for I am Truth. I include and impart all bliss, for I am Love. I give life, without beginning and without end, for I am Life. I am supreme and give all, for I am Mind. I am the substance of all, because I am that I am" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 252,253).
Following that description of God, we can see that everyone is reflecting, or expressing beauty so holy it can't be marred; perfection that is never mixed with imperfection; and glory, shining so brightly it will never die out. You and your fellowman include the unending joy, bliss, and vibrancy of eternal life.
So, keep the ninth by being willing to look beyond the material surface of things, which includes limitations, character flaws, and imperfection. God has commanded that you not bear false witness, so go ahead, see the true concept of God and His loved reflection wherever you go!
See you next week for commandment number 10!
Thou shalt not steal. Stealing. To me, it comes in many different forms. The obvious would be taking something intentionally from someone or some place; purse snatching, pocket picking, shoplifting, embezzling. Those all come to mind. Then we have the selfish driver who doesn’t use a blinker. He or she is stealing moments of other drivers’ days. All of these fit in to the 8th commandment.
I had a revelation about a different form of stealing when my daughters were in grade school.
I was active in the parent-teacher group at their school. I also did a lot of general volunteer work there. I helped the student council with their little store set-up at noon on Fridays; herded children to the photographer on school picture day; organized fund raisers for the school and so on. It was really too much at times, but since this was a school where there were a lot of single parents or parents who both had full time jobs, it seemed like I had to do it all. I was a stay-at-home mom, after all.
One day, I was working in the copier room, while another mom was cutting some figures out of construction paper for her child’s classroom. I was surprised to hear how thrilled she was to be there! She said when there was a need at the school she would be happy to take a few hours off from her job and volunteer her time. It was eye-opening. I had assumed that most of the other parents weren’t interested in being there. It gave me food for thought.
It hit me that if I rushed around and did everything, as efficient as that was, I could be stealing the opportunity for another parent to have the satisfaction of taking part in their child’s classroom. I’d also be stealing the joy that a child might feel seeing their parent caring enough to take part in their school.
From then on, I tried hard to find others to do what needed to be done, instead of hurrying to do it myself. It seems simple, but it shifted my thought into more loving encounters with others and the school benefited by more parents lending a hand. In fact, it has been a helpful lesson in other groups and organizations I’ve worked with since then. And that revelation led to another one.
In the textbook of Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy writes, “Constant toil, deprivations, exposures, and all untoward conditions, if without sin, can be experienced without suffering. Whatever it is your duty to do, you can do without harm to yourself” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 385).
In this school experience, the “sin” if you want to call it that, was stealing, by taking over activities without involving others. The suffering was feeling too busy, overwhelmed, burdened, and anxious. Since God equips us for every duty that is ours, that subtle suffering should be a red flag for us. It was for me! I began to recognize that “oh no! can I really get that done?!” feeling. It was a signal to me that I was doing something that wasn’t mine to do.
Some of us may struggle with saying no. But, knowing that saying no opens the door to someone else getting to participate and thereby, learn a new lesson, or accomplish something they didn’t think they were even capable of doing, makes saying no much easier.
It also makes saying yes, seem like a subtle form of stealing. Now, I’m not saying that we can’t contribute in a busy way at times. But, if it’s extreme helpfulness and it’s taking you down, you can see it for what it is: not yours, but someone else’s opportunity.
So, to avoid breaking the commandment not to steal, always pay for your merchandise; by all means, use your blinkers; and do only what you’re sure is yours to do. Your days will be more content, peaceful and you’ll be keeping the great number 8!
I'm giving the 10 commandments a closer look by blogging about one of them each Friday. Scroll down for the last seven blogs on the topic.
Number seven is: Thou shalt not commit adultery.
On the surface, the 7th commandment is about faithful marriages. Like the 6th commandment not to kill, this one is pretty straightforward. So, if you are in a good marriage where both partners are faithful are you off the hook? Well…good for you on the great marriage! And we can always look a little deeper at this commandment.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the verb to adulterate as: “to corrupt, debase, or make impure by the addition of a foreign or inferior substance.”
A study of the Bible shows that the first chapter of Genesis presents man (man, woman, and child) as made in the image and likeness of God, Spirit, or Mind. It has to follow then, that man is completely spiritual, because God is completely spiritual. It may be an idea you’ve never considered. But if we start with an all good God, a creator that is Spirit and Mind, and understand that we are made in His likeness, we have to come to the conclusion that we must be spiritual ideas.
Some of you may be thinking, "yes, we WILL be spiritual someday, maybe after we die." But, there are two statements that have been helpful to me, and others, in pondering the great fact that we are spiritual beings right here and now, in spite of what the material senses are telling us.
Both passages are read at the end of the Sunday church service in all Christian Science branch churches and societies around the world. They are considered correlative statements, since they correspond to each other.
The first is referred to as the “Scientific Statement of Being” and is found in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Mary Baker Eddy writes: “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual” (p. 468).
The corresponding statement is from the Bible, 1 John 3:1-3. It says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (New King James version).
God loves us too much to have created us materially--out of a substance that is temporary, faulty, dying. The hopeful expectation that we will see our pure, spiritual substance right now, is the essence of a deeper concept of the 7th commandment. The leap of faith that consents to the fact that we, and everyone in the world today, is as spiritual right now as divine Spirit is, purifies us and it purifies our concept of others. This purification of thought is a prayer that shows us that, in reality, no substance or thought foreign to God exists. The one and only infinite God has commanded it.
So, let’s keep pondering the fact that we can’t adulterate ourselves, or others, with the belief that, as spiritual ideas, we can suddenly morph into matter-based beings, or even beings who are a mixture of matter and Spirit. By claiming our pure, spiritual nature we are rejecting any substance that is foreign and inferior to God, eternal Spirit.
Keeping the 7th commandment is knowing that our spiritual identity isn’t waiting for us somewhere else. It’s present right now for the seeing!
I hope these insights will inspire readers to think more spiritually about themselves and the world around them!