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We know we’re supposed to do good and help others. That’s the right attitude to have. Yet we may feel a reluctance to step forward and offer help. What can get us past indifference or fear and compel us to act?
It takes something powerful enough to reverse self-centeredness, overcome timidity, move us. Something constant and compelling, even inspiring.
Love for others is what’s needed. Genuine love. Not self-originated, but divine. The spirit of Love itself, of God.
Divine Love is powerful. The unhindered expression of Love enlarges our capacity to do good beyond what the human mind says is justified or possible.
I caught a glimpse of this when a colleague offered to help me during a difficult time. The offer came when I was buried in the responsibilities of a new job. Although I felt inadequate to produce the quantity and quality of work required, I didn’t think I was giving any hint of the pressure this was putting on me. One afternoon a co-worker called on the phone. We discussed a few items of business, and then he said, “If there’s anything you’d like me to do to help, please let me know. I’d love to help if I can.” The offer was sincere, and when I took him up on the offer his joy was palpable, even though he was working long hours himself just to care for his own responsibilities.
The experience was helpful to me in a deep way. I saw in his actions the uplifting power behind unselfishness. There was absolutely no sense from him of having taken on an additional burden. He truly felt good helping me meet my needs. This coincides with the point Jesus made about doing good to others when he said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you.”
The opposite of this concept is also worth noting. When we’re preoccupied with ourselves we limit our ability to experience more of this enlivening, universal Love. It’s always present, but we more readily feel it as we embrace and express love for all others.
It seemed to me my colleague knew this. His actions mirrored something Mary Baker Eddy speaks of in her Miscellaneous Writings: “To love, and to be loved, one must do good to others.” It wasn’t depleting for him to offer his assistance. It was enriching.
Doing good is quite natural because man as God made him is the likeness, the expression, of Love. It’s important that we think of ourselves less as random mortals trying occasionally to do good, and more as God’s creation, the ever-active manifestation of Love itself. Then efforts to enlarge our care for others will seem less a struggle and more like the most normal thing in the world.
Divine Love’s influence is a compelling and wise attraction to do good at all times. It draws helpers and those needing help, together. “Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way,” writes Mrs. Eddy in Science and Health, a book that has helped me immeasurably.
Once at a church meeting the attendees were asked to consider how Science and Health has helped them, bringing a deeper spirituality to their lives, teaching them how to pray, healing their ills, and so much more. Later we were asked to make an effort to share what had benefited us by giving a copy of the book to someone else.
My initial reaction was probably not unlike others—a wonderful assignment, but give it to whom? I’d given copies of the book to others before but it was when they had asked me about Christian Science. Nonetheless, I recognized the potential for helping others in this way so I committed to finding a way to go forward.
As I was thinking about the opportunity a couple of things came to mind. First, sharing the book was one of the finest good deeds I could do for someone. The potential for healing and saving lives is well-established among the books many readers. Second, sharing it should be natural. That was particularly important to me because up to that point the circumstances seemed somehow unnatural—having something of enormous value to give yet apparently having no takers.
When I got home that night there was a letter to our family postmarked Russia, from a student who had stayed with our family a few months earlier. It couldn’t have been clearer to me from the heartfelt comments in her letter just how much she could use Science and Health. I sent a Russian translation of the book to her the next day. Over the years many other opportunities to share S&H have come along.
There is a naturalness in helping our fellow beings because of, not in spite of, who we really are—the children of God, who is pure good. This requires something of us, however. It requires commitment. To the degree that we commit ourselves to getting better acquainted with divine Love and enlarging our sphere of love for others — a love that is pure and all-embracing — our efforts to be helpful won’t be burdensome. They’ll be a welcome opportunity to do exactly what we’re meant to do, and to feel wonderful about doing it.