"With all thine heart"?
Most of us are accustomed to periodic evaluation of our work performance. Sometimes we are asked to rank ourselves on such qualities as dependability, self-reliance, and honesty. In the area of thoroughness and totality of effort, what is our performance? Probably not all we would like it to be.
Students of Christian Science are taught the importance of constant self-examination in terms of obedience to its teachings and success in applying its rules. They test the thoughts they entertain and their subsequent actions to see if these measure up to the standard of divine Truth and Love. Mrs. Eddy uses the words "in proportion" many times in her writings as she helps the reader see the direct relationship between one's faithfulness, or wholehearted devotion to God, and his ability to demonstrate this Science in his daily life.
The book of Acts relates an experience of Philip the evangelist. "The angel of the Lord" directed him to take the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. There he came upon an Ethiopian eunuch, a devout seeker of Truth, who was reading Isaiah. After Philip had explained the scriptural text, and the mission and teaching of Christ Jesus, the Ethiopian asked to be baptized. Philip made clear the requirement for baptism, replying "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." Acts 8:26, 37.
Our Leader, Mrs. Eddy, provides an answer to the following question in Miscellaneous Writings (p. 77):
"Did the salvation of the eunuch depend merely on his believing that Jesus Christ was the Son of God?
"It did; but this believing was more than faith in the fact that Jesus was the Messiah. Here the verb believe took its original meaning, namely, to be firm,—yea, to understand those great truths asserted of the Messiah ...." In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures also, Mrs. Eddy defines the word "believing." The first part of this definition reads, "Firmness and constancy; not a faltering nor a blind faith, but the perception of spiritual Truth." Science and Health, p. 582.
If, like the Ethiopian, we earnestly desire to be baptized, or purified, and to increase our devotion to God, we must comply with these requirements of believing and know what it is we believe. If we find that our earnestness in believing in Christ, Truth, and our joyous enthusiasm in solving our problems through Truth are less than full-blown, we may need to take an honest look at the implications of halfheartedness. Some unpleasant characteristics then come to light, such as infirmness of purpose, uncertainty, hesitancy, doubt, indifference. Such states of thought are evidences of animal magnetism, resistance to good. They should be recognized as impositions of mortal mind and not our own thinking, and rejected.
The great commandment, according to Christ Jesus, is "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." Matt. 22:37. The Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, presents this command as a penetrating question: "Dost thou 'love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind'?" Science and Health, p. 9. As we examine the quality of our devotion, do we detect reservations, evasions, lukewarmness? If so, these false mental elements need to be expelled. The true believer is not irresolute. He refuses to equivocate in his obedience to God, in his warfare with mortal influences and distractions.
Through the understanding of man's at-one-ment with the heavenly Father as His likeness, we can stand firm in the face of the temptation to believe in error's reality. Obedience to God's commands calls for a constant, enduring faith; and demanding tests of our faith, rightly met, establish us on a firmer foundation, enabling us to endure—that is, to not give up in the face of troubles. Consider such intrepid Bible characters as Moses and Paul. They were bold and steadfast in serving their God. They did not relax their efforts when tried. In Proverbs we read, "The righteous are bold as a lion." Prov. 28:1.
Paul and Silas were in Philippi to preach the gospel when by order of the city magistrates they were beaten and thrown into prison. But they prayed and sang praises to God. As a result of their prayer, gratitude, and fortitude, the foundations of the prison shook and the bands of all the prisoners were broken. And in the morning Paul and Silas were released. See Acts 16:16–40 .
Whatever trials may be crowding in on us, we can strive to express the same absolute trust in God exemplified by these two stalwart followers of the Master. If we seem to be in the grip of pain or inundated with discouragement or convulsed with fear, now is the time to reach out to God with deepest confidence in His all-power. Now is the time to declare with conviction that divine Love is omnipresent and has complete control of man, His own image, His beloved child. What impels us to strive earnestly to demonstrate the truth, to be strong in Spirit? It is divine Mind, God, expressing Himself through us, answering before we call. Jesus made clear a distinction between striving and seeking. He said, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." Luke 13:24.
Let's remember that to truly believe, we need to understand Christ, Truth, which Jesus presented through his life and teachings. There are strong biblical admonitions against double-mindedness, the weakness of wavering between one point of view and another. Miscellaneous Writings states, "The Scriptures require more than a simple admission and feeble acceptance of the truths they present; they require a living faith, that so incorporates their lessons into our lives that these truths become the motive-power of every act." Miss., pp. 196–197.
It may require constant testing to hold ourselves steady on the course of believing with all our heart, but there is joy in the striving, in the enduring, in the achieving. Our work is to respond to the Christly message of our oneness with our Father-Mother God as His spiritual offspring; to say with our whole heart, "I believe"; and to incorporate that firm profession into our daily living.