"To depart from evil is understanding"

It may be truly said that the great desire of every sincere student of Christian Science is for increased understanding of God and His law. In answer to the question, "How can I progress most rapidly in the understanding of Christian Science?" Mrs. Eddy has replied, "Study thoroughly the letter and imbibe the spirit" (Science and Health, p. 495). In this connection it is helpful to study in her writings the many references to spiritual food and to the digestion and assimilation of this food. In speaking of the textbook of Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," her instructions are: "Study it, ponder it. It will be indeed sweet at its first taste, when it heals you; but murmur not over Truth, if you find its digestion bitter" (Science and Health, p. 559). Indigestion, nonassimilation and malnutrition may seem quite as common in the mental as in the so-called physical realm. Are we able to recognize the symptoms and apply the remedy? Probably every student of Christian Science has at some time been beset with the thought that he ought to study all the time in order to progress. We have all heard the familiar remark, "I just have to spend every spare minute with my books these days." Yet the student should not lean in thought upon mere reading, rather than upon the demonstration of the truth set forth in our Leader's writings.

Too little digestion and assimilation of the truth may seem to cause a stoppage of action and of unfoldment of understanding. We know it is necessary for us daily to seek our spiritual food, and there are crises in every one's human experience which require much consecrated study. Every paragraph carefully studied and then applied will enlarge our understanding of God as nothing else can, and will thereby open up the meaning of other paragraphs which we now seem unable to grasp. Experience teaches that as we go about our daily tasks. no matter how material they may seem to be, the spiritual ideas previously gained through study will come back to our thought with new meaning and illumined in their application. We need to think over what we have been reading, as certainly as we need to study. Indeed, reading is not always study, but to read, mark, and inwardly digest is to study. The preparation for every emergency must come, not solely through study, but through learning to distinguish between the right thought and the wrong, to choose the good and reject the evil. We need never fear that we shall be left in any situation without a thought of Truth to guide us, for these thoughts from God are the proof of His presence, and since God, infinite Mind, is everywhere present there can be no place where God's thoughts are lacking.

The writer remembers that when she first began the study of the textbook she felt almost overwhelmed by the vastness of Christian Science and by the task which she saw lay before her to correct her own thinking and bring it more in accord with Principle. At this point she found on page 272, these illuminating words: "The spiritual sense of truth must be gained before Truth can be understood. This sense is assimilated only as we are honest, unselfish, loving, and meek." How simple, yet how profound! As all can recognize these qualities when they see them expressed, namely, honesty, unselfishness, love, and meekness, so the next step must be willingly to express them ourselves, no matter what sacrifice of the old sense of self this expression may call for. This, then, is the road to understanding spoken of in the book of Job, "To depart from evil is understanding," and in Psalms, "A good understanding have all they that do his commandments."

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Spiritual Life
November 19, 1921

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