"Who maketh thee to differ?"

In the fourth chapter of I Corinthians, Paul warns his readers against being "puffed up," and then he asks the searching question which we may each ask ourselves with profit, "Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?" This was addressed mainly to recent converts to Christianity, some of whom were Jews, others Greeks, and it is very likely that the former may have prided themselves upon their greater morality, as inculcated in the teachings of Moses. Be this as it may, Paul impersonalizes his query by making it tremendously individual, appealing as it were "to every man's conscience in the sight of God," as he says elsewhere.

At a first glance it might seem as if individual responsibility was repudiated in the question asked, but this is far from being the case, as we see in the light of Christian Science. A fundamental proposition of Mrs. Eddy's teaching is that God, infinite good, is the only creator, and that the real man possesses nothing which he does not receive from God. The Bible tells us that God made nothing which does not express the divine nature; hence man could never receive anything from God which is not good. Then let us slightly change Paul's question, and make it read, What maketh thee to differ from another? That there is a difference between men, to mortal sense, and a great difference, is undeniable. Some are sick and others sinful, or rather all mortals are sick and sinful at times, thus falling short of the divine standard, which always demands perfection.

The one, however, who is above the plane of gross wrong-doing, perhaps never pauses to ask himself what it is that makes him different from the brother that is held to be a criminal. If he thinks it is goodness inherent in himself, he is greatly mistaken. He has nothing which he has not received, either as the divine nature reflected through spiritual understanding and coming to him in the process called the "new birth," or as an improved belief of morality which is the result of early training and favorable environment. This means that one differs from another in so far as he has in some way received an understanding of divine law and lets it govern his thoughts, words, and actions. He may not be known as a religious man, but just the same he was fortunate enough to have inculcated in the formation of his character a love of what is right, and this can no more be shaken than can the eternal hills.

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"The salt of the earth"
April 11, 1914

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