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True economy

From the November 1990 issue of The Christian Science Journal

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"Economy" sounds so theoretical to most people, but it isn't theoretical at all when we think of it in terms of earning a living, providing for a family, and thinking about the future.

What does "economy" mean to most of us? Is it that good is limited—that there isn't enough good to go around? Since we know that God is good, would that mean that there isn't enough of God to go around? Such a concept of economy couldn't come from God, for God is infinite Mind, and in infinite Mind are infinite—spiritual—ideas. Limited good is not a spiritual idea. What, then, would limitation be based on?

In some cases, perhaps selfishness, perhaps extravagance, perhaps fear. In many cases simply not being aware of the universality of good. If we are inclined to accept a limited sense of supply, we could also accept a limited sense of happiness, a limited sense of harmony, or a limited sense of health. Indeed, if we are thinking in material terms, limitation becomes pervasive; it seeps into all aspects of life, making us vulnerable to rumors and predictions concerning every area of human experience. When we turn from matter to Spirit, however, our lives change. We become aware of and experience the flow of good coming forth from God. Christian Science explains that healings of lack recorded in the Bible occurred because of the recognition that God's supply is unlimited. As we read in the Bible, "My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19.

How does this supply that comes from God, Spirit, give us answers to meet our human needs? By means of spiritual ideas. Mrs. Eddy, who had herself experienced poverty, explains, "God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies." Miscellaneous Writings, p. 307.

Usually our legitimate needs—food, clothes, other necessary items—are bought in exchange for money. Money itself—no more than a piece of paper or a chunk of metal—stands for qualities that have been put forth. When earned honorably, money received shows that intelligence, wisdom, perseverance, effort, and unselfishness have been expressed. Spiritual ideas involve the satisfaction of caring about doing a job correctly or the joy of helping someone else succeed. As Robert Sheaffer, the author of Resentment Against Achievement, said, "When the morality of achievement predominates, civilizations flourish in commerce, in the arts, in science; they erect great monuments and are remembered by future times as magnificent eras." Resentment Against Achievement: Understanding the Assault Upon Ability (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1988), p. 8 . This morality tends to lead us toward values like tolerance and the freedom of the individual who works hard to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Such unity of purpose and mutual respect are necessary for a civilization to flourish.

Do we see qualities of God identified here? We surely do. Reflecting the qualities of God, we are receptive to God's unlimited spiritual ideas, "and in turn, they give. ... daily supplies."

But, then, what if a pile of bills and a low bank account forcefully remind us of limitation? Or, what if we are tempted to dwell on what we think we don't have instead of recognizing what we do have in terms of God-given qualities? Or, what if we suffer from believing that the economy is poor in our particular area? The fact still remains that Soul has infinite resources and we can individually witness and experience God's richness and abundance. Mrs. Eddy makes this point very clearly. She writes in Science and Health, "Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul." Science and Health, p. 60. "To bless mankind"—that's everybody!

To illustrate, a young businessman with a family had to realize this during what is referred to as the Great Depression. Every time he went into a venture with the thought of how much money he was going to make, it failed. With a new venture in prospect, he went to visit a Christian Science practitioner. Her words to him helped him see why he had been riding a roller coaster. He recalled her words this way: "If it's good for one, it's good for everyone."

Mrs. Eddy says, "In the scientific relation of God to man, we find that whatever blesses one blesses all. ..." Ibid., p. 206. Blesses all! Then there is enough good to go around. Good for everyone turns thought away from money to ideas, from personal gain to universal blessing.

When the man left the practitioner's office, he carefully considered what she had said. The idea of being motivated by "it's good for everyone" changed the whole direction of his career.

We all can learn that Soul is not doling out special favors to some while holding back on others. After all, what is it that Soul unstintingly gives to every individual? Unlimited spiritual qualities that bring forth ideas for everyone everywhere who is responsive to spirituality. Knowing of Soul's giving helps us to be aware of the ideas that come to us and to have the courage to put to use the resources of Soul.

However, even if individuals are unaware that the qualities they express come from Soul, the very fact that they are open to intelligent ideas brings blessing. Just as a river could not hold back water it is pouring forth or choose the particular personalities whose thirst it will quench, so it is with Soul. Giving forth of its abundance, Soul supplies in its unlimited way all that is needed to meet humanity's needs.

If we're just after what we think is material abundance, however, and are trying to use Christian Science to acquire things, we're not after real supply. If we're looking for more and more materialism instead of spiritual qualities, we'll never have enough, nor will we ever be satisfied. What is here for us to recognize is that ideas are what God gives unstintingly. He's not holding anything back.

This is not to say that we can be foolhardy and spend beyond intelligent or wise budgeting. Nor should we fail to salt away sufficient funds to cover unusual or unexpected expenditures.

Yet, if we pray to God for "more money" to spend or to salt away, what would the obvious answer be? Wouldn't it be, "What money?" What does He know about money, per se? Not a thing! What is it He does know about? We are back to ideas and qualities. When recognized and expressed, these bring into view a true, balanced, permanent sense of the economy of good. Consequently, economy really has nothing to do with bank accounts, securities, property, purses, wallets, or what we have "salted away" over the years. Ideas continuously flow forth from Spirit in the way that God presents them.

For example, a man was asked to relocate his family from the Midwest to California because his employer had purchased a new company there. Because of the depressed state of the company when it was taken over, bankruptcy occurred in about two years. This man had a wife and three children to support. He prayed to understand and to realize more of Soul's infinite resources. Eventually a temporary opening appeared with a subsidiary of a large oil company. When this opportunity came, the man didn't hold out for his previous salary. He trustingly took what came. Knowing that this job was temporary and was coming to a conclusion, he continued to pray about the employment situation.

Just as a river could not hold back water it is pouring forth or choose the particular personalities whose thirst it will quench, so it is with Soul. Soul supplies in its unlimited way all that is needed to meet humanity's needs.

He regularly attended the Wednesday evening testimony meetings, that are held in Christian Science churches around the world. One Wednesday he was inspired by the words of the last hymn sung: "And during the battle the victory claim." Christian Science Hymnal, No. 204. Even though he had not seen the total answer to the employment problem, all fear left. He felt God's present love and a sense of victory—"during the battle."

As it turned out, he was offered an interview with the prospect of joining the parent oil company. The interviewer asked him what he knew about oil. My friend, who had listened for God's spiritual and practical ideas, responded by saying, "Well, a great number of people in this building know more about oil than I do, but if you want some 'salt' in that stew you're cooking, I'm the man for the job." Consequently, he was hired and told to report the following Monday.

Over the weekend, however, another oil company merged with this parent company. Upon the man's arrival on Monday, the individual in the personnel department with whom he had spoken told him they weren't taking on any new people. They already had too many because of the merger. Undaunted, he continued prayerfully to claim his victory. As it turned out, this decision was soon reversed and the man was with that company for many years.

Is the purpose of prayer to bring us lots of money? No. Prayer brings us into the harmonious realization of God's ever-present abundance of ideas. Consequently, if there is a need for a change in the human economy, it can occur in such a way as to strengthen character and benefit all. As we make this change, we can't help being happy and secure as well as supplied in practical ways, because we will have gained a clearer view of the eternal resources that inevitably bless mankind.

The need, then, is not for more money but for a deeper understanding and expression of Spirit, God. For example, in the chapter "Prayer" in Science and Health, we see that to gain spiritual ideas our lives must genuinely yield to the power of God. Doing so, we find that we already include, by reflection, all the qualities that evidence the balanced economy of God. We need to know this for ourselves, our families, our churches, our countries, and our world.

It might be appropriate to consider that we're going to have to demonstrate true economy forever. It is not just a temporary, or short-term, effort. So we might as well get on with it, because true economy is good for everyone.

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