Leveling wealth with honesty
When wealth is measured spiritually, real worth and value become apparent.
If you were asked the question, “How wealthy are you?” what might come to mind? Would it be how much money you have in the bank or property you own, the quantity and worth of your material possessions? Or would it be the quality of life you’re living, the love you are experiencing, the happiness and joy found in your home, the character of your work, and the spiritual-mindedness you enjoy?
It’s a common temptation to measure wealth in material terms and to believe that the more money you have, the richer you are. But there is far more to wealth than what can be deposited in a bank account or recorded on a balance sheet. Someone with lots of money may still feel a sense of lack, while someone with little money may feel rich with love, joy, and abounding health.
A time-honored adage instructs, “It pays to be honest.” And in a world that usually equates wealth with money, it does pay to be honest about what constitutes true wealth, so that one doesn’t feel less wealthy just because he has less money than his neighbor.
Mary Baker Eddy had a clear sense of true wealth when she wrote, “Break up cliques, level wealth with honesty, let worth be judged according to wisdom, and we get better views of humanity” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 239). Her instruction to “level wealth with honesty” reveals a moral and spiritual dimension to wealth. As Christian Science explains, real substance, or wealth that endures, is Spirit, God, not matter. “Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal” (Science and Health, p. 468). Real wealth is spiritual. It lasts forever. It’s not based in material things, all of which have an expiration date, but in spiritual substance—in things such as love, generosity, goodness, and Spirit-based health and happiness—which is ever present to bless, inspire, and enrich. When we honestly accept a spiritual sense of what constitutes real wealth, we can find and experience it, whether we have money or not.
I began to measure wealth in spiritual terms.
I learned the link between honesty and wealth when I was sorting out the meaning of life after graduating from college. I was working in my family’s farming business, believing that I would farm for the rest of my life. If I stayed in this position, my economic future was bright.
But something was missing. Farming was not as inspiring for me as it was for my dad. I felt like a machine going through mechanical motions. I wanted to enter a ministry of helping others find healing through prayer, but I didn’t see how to earn a living at it. So, I stayed on the farm, feeling both stuck and increasingly helpless to do anything about it.
I finally had a moment of reckoning when I realized I was living a dishonest life. I was very honest with others, but I was not being honest with myself. I knew the farm was not my right place, but I stayed there because I believed it was the fastest route to wealth and success. These words from Science and Health struck deep: “Honesty is spiritual power. Dishonesty is human weakness, which forfeits divine help” (p. 453). My misery was of my own making, caused by adhering to a dishonest position. I didn’t belong on the farm, and I needed to admit it.
Through daily prayer, and study of what the Bible teaches about wealth, I began to see that money and wealth are not the same thing. One can have lots of money, but little wealth, as Christ Jesus reminded the young man worrying about getting his fair share of his father’s estate: “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own” (Luke 12:15, New Living Translation).
As I prayed, I began to measure wealth in spiritual terms—as living an honest life free of deceit, woeful compromise, untruthful appearances, misleading signals, and disingenuous actions. I could see that a wealthy life is an honest life guided by a clear conscience, by the moral and spiritual fortitude to do the right thing, and by the courage to face wrong and the understanding to correct it. Even more, it’s governed by the spiritual-mindedness that causes us to feel close to God and to express God in the form of integrity, truthfulness, sincerity, and trustworthiness. It bespeaks man’s spiritual individuality made in the likeness of—the very embodiment of—Truth, God. I began to see that success is a life lived in alignment with divine Truth and truthfulness, which would be an honest life with God. I wanted the honest life!
As I came to terms with understanding true wealth as a life that is lived honestly, I found a graceful way to exit the farming business and launch into the full-time public practice of Christian Science healing, work in which my heart sings and soars with meaning and purpose even to this day. I love what I do. I sacrificed the potential for lots of money at a young age, but over the decades since, I have seen that when we live honestly with God, every human need is met, abundantly. My family has always had enough money to pay the bills and more. More important, our home has been filled with love, peace, and health—the riches that matter most.
Jesus is the epitome of demonstrating the correlation between wealth and honesty. He did not spend time and effort amassing material assets, yet he had what he needed without fail. When food supplies seemed limited, they were multiplied when he gave thanks to God (see Matthew 15:32–38). When faced with a tax bill, he taught a spiritual lesson and directed Peter to an unexpected and unusual place to find the needed money (see Matthew 17:24–27). When approached by the sick, he healed them with his prayers (see, for example, Mark 7:32–35). Jesus understood that God is the source of all real substance. His understanding of God’s omnipotence and omnipresence empowered him to overcome lack and accomplish acts of healing that all the money in the world could never have brought about. He lived an honest life with God and, as a result, was abundantly supplied. He demonstrated true wealth.
There is nothing wrong with having money. Everyone needs to pay the bills. But when wealth is measured spiritually, real worth and value become apparent, and these have nothing to do with material possessions.
Honesty is wealth, and it’s freely available without limit for anyone to live. Its hallmarks include spiritual contentment, morality, spirituality, sincerity, healing inspiration, truthfulness, equanimity, love, and good health—all shining spiritual assets that no amount of money can ever buy. “Level wealth with honesty,” and a truer picture of real substance appears.