Judging Righteously

January 31, 2013

Jesus once said “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”  (see John 5:10)

Jesus clearly understood that he was ineffectual when relying on his own opinions and efforts – on his human capacity.  But when seeking – and trusting – God’s will, he knew his judgements to be righteous.  He expected that God would direct him under all circumstances, and he leaned exclusively on his heavenly Father for everything.

That is a perfect model and methodology for you and me.  And to the extent that we meekly turn to God to meet each need and to provide every viewpoint, do we also judge righteous judgement.

Jesus gave some clues about how to do this.  In Matthew, he explained: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.”  (see 7:1,2)  He clarified that judging after the appearance, after the flesh, would be misleading.  He even went so far as to say he judged no man!  (see John 7:24 and 8:15)

Even before examining our own process of judging, the first step, it seems, is to be clear – as Jesus was – that we can of our own selves do nothing.  This requires prayer, prayer, and more prayer that meekly watches for and obediently consents to the spiritual messages that God is constantly pouring forth (and which are not returning unto Him void – see Isaiah 55:11).  As we are a willing audience for these divine directives, and as we strive – even struggle – to put them into practice, we can begin to hope that our judgement will be righteous.

God so loved the world that He gave us His son.  Not just as a savior, but as an example.  So, it is possible, in fact it’s required, that we learn to judge without error.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

In the early days of Jesus’ ministry, he sent his disciples out into the community ahead of his arrival.  He assured them that every need would be taken care of with these words: “Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.”  The work that he had given them to do was profound, work that Jesus himself had already been doing, and training them to do.  He told them, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils:” (see Matt 10: 8-10)  He also told them, in essence, that they should just move on from anywhere they were not welcome because others down the road would greet them enthusiastically.  And it proved to be the case.  They returned to him with stories of great success.

At the end of Jesus’ ministry, his advice was much different.  He cautioned his disciples, “When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.  Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”  (see Luke 22:35,36)  What had changed?

Jesus knew he would be leaving them.  At least for a little while.  He was predicting that things would be pretty tough for the disciples – at least for a little while.  And they were.  The disciples would struggle briefly with the loss of the man Jesus – even though he had taught them everything they needed to know about the ever-present Christ he represented.  They would even predict that his ministry was over, and for naught.  The awful story was so compelling Peter suggested they go back to fishing.  And they did.  But even that was unsuccessful.

The Bible says that Jesus appeared to the doubting disciples several times after his resurrection to reaffirm what he’d already given to them (and to predict their success in the future); to encourage and chastise them (see Luke 24:36-39); to give them directions about how to proceed (see Mark 16:14, 15); and to let them know that his love – God’s love made manifest – was ever with them.  And Jesus stuck with it until the disciples finally got it.

And they did get it!  But Jesus predicted that too! He said, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”  (see John 17:20,21)

That prayer is a prediction for you and me too, that even if the times seem tough, we can believe on him and regain our sense of oneness with the Father.  That guarantees that we’re never really alone, never really without the care and the safety and progress we need.  So whether we go into the world with scrip or without, let’s always be sure to go knowing, even predicting the encompassing care of the Christ.  Then, like the disciples, we too can be assured by this promise: “lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”  (Matt 28:20)

That’s a prediction we can live with – eternally!

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

What are you predicting?

January 17, 2013

Do you ever catch yourself saying things like “I bet that’s going to hurt in the morning.”  “You’ll be sorry.”  “Everyone in my office has a cold, so it’s only a matter of time before I get one too.”  “Whatever could go wrong, will.”  “Things never work out for me.”  “Just my luck…”  These kinds of comments are pretty familiar to all of us and often, they turn into what might be called a self-fulfilling prophecy.  So we tend to argue that our prediction was correct – maybe even, that everybody knows that’s just the way things are.

A favorite Bible verse offers a different perspective: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  (see Proverbs 3:5,6)  Obeying that statement moves thought into a new trajectory – away from fear and towards satisfaction, safety, and peace.  How does that work?

First of all, it helps to get thoroughly clear about who and what God is: that He is indeed trustworthy, dependable, ever present, and Love itself, as the Scriptures indicate!  (see 1st John 4:7,8)  The correlative, of course, is being equally clear that your own understanding is simply not up to the task.  Does that seem counterintuitive?  Think of it this way: putting all your trust in God serves to challenge and dismiss those niggling little thoughts that suggest there is some other power or option.  There is no other power if God is omnipotent!

The second part of that verse from Proverbs explains how to trust the Lord and what the wonderful outcome is of doing so.  Acknowledge Him!  In everything!  Acknowledge His guidance, His strength, His compassion, His affection, His clarity.  This is simply obeying the First Commandment: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  (see Exodus 20:3)  Or as Jesus put it (quoting Deuteronomy) “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”  (see Matt. 22:37)

What you get as a result of this trust is the recognition that God is directing your paths.  All of them.  No exceptions.  That doesn’t mean you’ll have a sterile, nose-to-the-grindstone existence though.  On the contrary!  It means your life will be filled with joy and prosperity, with health and happiness, with progress and peace.  Any number of the Psalms will confirm this fact!

A favorite article called “God’s Law of Adjustment” has this profound paragraph in it:

If a person were drowning in mid-ocean with apparently no human help at hand, there is a law of God which, when rightly appealed to, would bring about their rescue. Does the reader doubt this? Then they must believe that it is possible for man to find himself in a condition where God cannot help him. If one were in a burning building or a railroad accident, or if he or she were in a den of lions, there is a law of God which could at once adjust the apparent material circumstances so as to bring about their complete deliverance.

Just to be clear, none of this means that it’s wrong to be prepared.  What it does mean is let God prepare you.  There’s no need to second guess God’s unerring direction.  Mary Baker Eddy, who practiced this deep and abiding trust in her own life, once wrote: “The divine Mind, which forms the bud and blossom, will care for the human body, even as it clothes the lily; but let no mortal interfere with God’s government by thrusting in the laws of erring, human concepts.”  (see Science and Health, page 62)

So, let your trust in God be your spiritual preparation.  Let Him make plain to you how and when to proceed.  Expect that you will be safe and healthy, cared for and secure – under all circumstances.  And then go forward as He directs.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

If ye love me…

January 10, 2013

…keep my commandments.  So spake Jesus of Nazareth.  (see John 14:15)  He knew the connection between deep affection and obedience.   His full and complete love for God enabled him to thoroughly obey His will.  He said, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”  (see John 5:30)

That devotion also required great humility!  At no time did Jesus say, “I’ll just do my own thing here, and check in with God later.”  He trusted the divine direction in every instance – even the Garden of Gethsemane.  (see Matt 26:36 to 46)  Although that trust seemed to lead through absolutely horrific conditions, ultimately he proved God’s care to be his source – and ours too – of Life itself.  Christianity would likely not exist had Jesus followed his own plan and avoided the crucifixion.  Because what came after that event is the absolute proof of God’s presence and power for all time and all creation.

Jesus’ willingness to obey his Father under all circumstances sets the standard for us to follow his commandments as a measure of our own fidelity.  It might get tough, but it will likely be tougher if we don’t!  How so?  Let’s look at just a sampling of his directives found in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matt 5-7):

  • Cast the beam out of your own eye;

  • Love your enemies;

  • Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness;

  • Agree with your adversary quickly;

  • Judge not;

  • Pray in your closet;

In each case, he explains the reasoning behind his instruction.  For example – if you leave the beam in your own eye, you are useless in helping someone else remove the splinter from their eye.  Or, if you avoid seeking God’s kingdom first, you’ll always be in a struggle for stuff.  But seeking that kingdom right off the bat invokes the promise that all the stuff will just naturally be yours as you need it.

The effort involved in keeping these commandments is of great value in improving your life because it requires deep thoughtfulness, even prayer.  And being faithful over these few things will enable you to be master over many, even the command to: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”  (Matt. 10:8)

Perhaps the greatest commands of Jesus though are to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself.  (Luke 10:27) All of his other statements are summarized in these two requirements.  Obedience to them means you will naturally obey all the others and ultimately do the things he did.  (see John 14:12)

Mary Baker Eddy researched Jesus’ statements over a lifetime and was convinced what he asked is doable.  She wrote, “‘He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do,’ is a radical and unmistakable declaration of the right and power of Christianity to heal; for this is Christlike, and includes the understanding of man’s capabilities and spiritual power.”  (Mis. 193:27)

Let us love, let us obey, let us heal.  The blessings will be infinite.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

New Year Work Out

January 3, 2013

No, it’s not some exercise routine or diet regimen, nor is it a motivational practice.  It’s a biblical directive from St. Paul: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”  (See Phil. 2:12)  Make no mistake though: following this instruction can be as life changing – life enhancing – as any activity you’ve ever undertaken!

What makes it so spiritually invigorating, and thus a valid pathway to human improvement, is the one-on-one relationship with God that it requires and develops.  You see, the Apostle Paul didn’t just leave it as a “you go do this and come back when you’re done” kind of imperative.  He followed his statement with this reassurance: “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

You’ll note that one distinctive element of this particular Bible passage is that it’s your OWN salvation that’s being worked out.  Not you assisting with someone else’s (likely to your detriment), nor is it someone else working out yours (definitely to your detriment).  This is just between you and God – although the outcome is of benefit to all mankind.  How so?  Because any deepened relationship with God and the spiritual growth that comes therefrom, is always larger than just the one learning and growing.  “What blesses one blesses all,” as 19th century theologian, Mary Baker Eddy, said in her masterpiece on salvation, Science and Health. (see page 206)

A particularly helpful idea from Proverbs explains how to tackle this: “Commit thy works [or workout] unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” (Prov 16:3)  Thus, as you turn this over to your heavenly Father, it is God Himself that is filling you with a right understanding of what pleases Him, and so enabling you to be about His business in a right and normal way, blessing and being blessed.

That kind of workout, though not easy, is definitely worth pursuing.  And worth rejoicing about.  As the Psalmist says, “For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work.” (92:4)

Here’s to a New Year workout filled with joy, progress, harmony – and of course, salvation!

You may enjoy this translation from The Message by Eugene Peterson:  “Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God.  That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.”

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.