Have you ever felt so grateful to someone that you wanted with all your heart to find a way to repay him? If what was done for you meant a great deal to you, you naturally wanted to give something in return. When we're truly grateful we feel a need to do more than just say "thanks."
Jesus once said to his disciples, "... freely ye have received, freely give." He was speaking to them just before they were to leave on a journey of healing and preaching. The entire verse in the Bible reads, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give." Matt. 10:8. When we read Christ Jesus' words, do they speak to us, or do we think of them as having meaning only centuries ago and for those few disciples? Jesus seems to have been speaking of a deep gratitude that simply must be expressed in giving. But what had the disciples received that they were to give? And if the words are meant for us too, what is it that we've received; exactly what are we to give?
You may be wondering how Jesus' words can speak to you. Maybe you feel that you haven't freely received much of anything. If you've been struggling with difficult challenges, you may even be doubtful about your ability to give freely.
Let's imagine how those disciples must have felt. Their lives had been transformed by the truth their Master had taught them. They were being shown a much larger view of life. They were learning of God, who is Love, and this enabled them to heal! Their newfound healing ability caused Jesus' followers to say with joy, "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name." Luke 10:17. Jesus had opened their eyes to the wonder and power of man's relationship to God. Wouldn't they have been filled with gratitude and a desire to obey their Master?
The God that Jesus taught his disciples to know is the same God that we today can know and love and obey.
Man's relationship to God hasn't changed over the centuries. We today are God's children every bit as much as the disciples were. The God that Jesus taught his disciples to know and love and obey is the same God that we today can know and love and obey. The God that Jesus spoke of was a God of love. He was all good and all-powerful. Jesus' works were positive proof that God is Love and that this Love is more powerful than sin, disease, or death.
Through study of the Bible we today have the opportunity to be Jesus' followers as surely as Peter, James, or John. His teachings are available to us to learn and to live. God is the Principle behind Jesus' words and works, and this Principle is established—no matter who conforms to it or in what century. The words that Jesus spoke throughout his ministry are just as true today as they were when they were first spoken, and these words can come alive for us!
Although our first efforts to demonstrate the power of God, divine Principle, in our lives may be modest, every time we see healing occur through our application of God's power we have conclusive proof of the effectiveness of prayer. Our study of the Bible, along with Science and Health by Mrs. Eddy, shows us the practicality of Jesus' teachings for our lives today. We see that to be truly a disciple of Jesus we must obey his commands and follow his example to the best of our ability. Our ability to follow Jesus' example grows as we learn more of the Principle behind what he said and did. And as our ability grows, we find our lives taking on a deeper meaning. A growing sense of peace and satisfaction, as well as an expanded ability to be of help to those around us, is the natural outcome of our growing understanding. This is what we can be grateful for. This is what we freely receive.
Then, if we're grateful to God for what He has done for us, we find that we, like the disciples, are filled with the desire to "freely give." We are willing to make sacrifices to do this giving. We dig into our textbooks with purpose, so that we can better understand the truth our Master has given us. We find that because this growing understanding is more important to us than all other considerations, we are willing to devote time to study and prayer. We see how important it is to practice consistently what we are learning and to bring our thinking more and more into line with the Christ.
Our gratitude impels us to give. In a heart that overflows, good necessarily flows to others, spilling out and touching the lives of all around us. Having felt God's love for us, we in turn love Him and all of His children. Mrs. Eddy says, "Love for God and man is the true incentive in both healing and teaching." Science and Health, p. 454. When we're filled with love and gratitude, we yearn to share what we've felt so tangibly in our lives. We want to comfort and heal others. The way to do this is to see our fellowman the way God made him: perfect, spiritual, Godlike. Sickness or pain, uncleanness or leprosy, death—even deadened thoughts or lives—devils or evil of any kind, are no part of the real man. Jesus' teaching and example have proved this for us.
We, too, can be awakened by Christ to see the larger view of life that Jesus' disciples saw. We can break free of limited concepts that would narrow our thinking and doing. Christ, revealing the truth of God and of man's inviolable relationship to Him, is here today as much as when Jesus was here on earth. But to feel the Christ, to enlarge our view, takes consistent prayerful effort. As we align our thinking moment by moment with Principle, we feel God to be so much nearer and dearer. Our reliance on Him grows, and regeneration takes place. And our gratitude naturally wells up.
The love that more and more fills our thinking comes to us from God, who is Love, and it is powerful and practical. Mrs. Eddy has given us great assurance of the fact that our love for our fellowman is effective. She writes, "Whatever holds human thought in line with unselfed love, receives directly the divine power." Ibid., p. 192.
When our hearts are full of love and the sincere desire to benefit others, we bring more good to others than we can ever know. Our lives and examples help and uplift others. This blesses us, also; the love we generously share with others enriches us most. Our lives take on real purpose. We see that larger view, for we are realizing more of our oneness with God. With joy we can agree: freely we have received and freely will we give.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Romans 12:1, 2
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