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Cast out the beam and the mote

From the July 2015 issue of The Christian Science Journal

In a Christian Science lecture in the mid-1960s, I heard the speaker make a statement of truth and then add dryly, “I’m sure we all know someone who needs to hear that!” Laughter from the audience greeted this comment.

Isn’t that always the temptation—to tell someone else what to think or do? I love the anecdote about a Christian Science couple taking a drive in the country. There was a lot of backseat driving going on. Finally the long-suffering husband said from the driver’s seat, “You know, dear, there is only one Mind.” She replied: “I know that. And that Mind is telling me what to tell you!”

When we encounter situations where we feel tempted to correct another person’s thinking or behavior, it’s worth remembering a verse from the book of Matthew: “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (7:5). I have seen the wisdom of this proved in my own experience. 

Many years ago, I had a close friend who became interested in Christian Science. But at one point she became disenchanted and stopped studying and going to church. I found myself in the position of trying to convince her to stay with Christian Science. It was actually a recurring conversation with us—almost an argument. 

Then one day, I was startled to hear her say that when I started living Christian Science, she would join the church. My first thought was indignant: “Well, how dare you! I live Christian Science. I study the Lesson, attend church faithfully, and serve on church committees.”  

That line of reasoning sounded very much like the Pharisee who prayed: “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are .… I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess” (Luke 18:11, 12).               

Actually, I knew that my friend was referring to a specific incident that I had handled in a way that did not meet her expectations.

Not too long after this conversation, it came to me that she was absolutely right. I realized that I could no longer try to convince someone of the truth, nor did I need to; I needed only to live it myself.

There was a need for less talking and more doing, and a willingness to follow the Christ-idea wherever it led.

In Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, Mary Baker Eddy says: “Learn what in thine own mentality is unlike ‘the anointed,’ and cast it out; …” (p. 355). I saw that I did need to live Christian Science on more than a superficial level. I realized I had reached a sort of plateau in my understanding and that I felt a sense of satisfaction with where I was. Things in my life were going along smoothly, for the most part. 

Now came the realization that something more was required. There was a need to “launch out into the deep” (Luke 5:4), a need for less talking and more doing, and a willingness to follow the Christ-idea wherever it led, like Abraham, who “went out, not knowing whither he went.… For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:8, 10).

This was a change of base for me, and with it came an awakening to Life. I realized that I could not simply use truth to fix something that is broken or to get rid of unpleasant material conditions. Mrs. Eddy points out the wonderful benefits of elevating thought and recognizing Life as complete and accessible now. She writes, “Entirely separate from the belief and dream of material living, is the Life divine, revealing spiritual understanding and the consciousness of man’s dominion over the whole earth” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 14).

Quite soon, much to my joy, this friend did indeed join the Christian Science church. This happened very simply and naturally, without any sense that there had ever been any resistance. I recall the awe I felt when I saw this take place. 

This experience was really a wonderful eye-opener for me and has served as a reminder these many years that there will never be a time when we can be comfortable in the dream of life in matter. Christian Science has come to awaken us from this dream, and this awakening will continue until there is no longer any claim of matter. Until then, Mrs. Eddy reminds us, “Every day makes its demands upon us for higher proofs rather than professions of Christian power” (Science and Health, p. 233).

To me, the “beam” represents the basic error, the universal belief that life is in matter or that there is a mind apart from God. To cast out the beam is to cast out the belief that error is real, in whatever form it appears. What does not come from divine Mind needs to be removed as it comes to our thought, and then the mote—which is seen as another’s error—will be cast out as well. Error is never personal. In fact, it is never anything more than a suggestion. It is never true according to God.

I had another experience early in my branch church membership when a new member was not given a job in church that she wanted very badly. It was obvious that she blamed me, even though it was a Board decision. Through the years, we worked together and remained cordial, but underneath was that unsettled feeling of blame. On occasion, I would hear her mention under her breath what had happened.

Then one day as I went for a walk, the situation came to thought and I found myself saying aloud (rather plaintively): “I wish she could understand that it was not personal!” At that moment, I was reminded of an article that I had just read, “Redeeming the past” by Charles V. Winn (Christian Science Sentinel, November 8, 1924). This article brings out the fact that our thought about the past can be remedied now. 

Then it came to me that I was expecting this woman to see or do something to change this bitter feeling. The wonderful freeing thought came: I don’t have to get her to see anything. As always, it’s my thought that needs to be corrected. 

With that, I knew the situation was handled. What had persisted as a thorn in my thought for years was completely dissolved in a few moments. It became apparent to me soon afterward that there was no hint of past hurt in my interactions with this woman. In fact, she seemed to go out of her way to let me know how much she appreciated a certain activity in which I was involved.

Mrs. Eddy says, “There was never a moment in which evil was real” (No and Yes, p. 24). That came to me so clearly in this experience.

In casting out the beam—the belief that error is real—the mote is effectively removed.

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