Redeeming the Time
From the Christian Science Journal, February 1916, by Bertha V. Zerega
One of the great blessings which Christian Science bestows upon the earnest student of its teachings is the improved sense of progressive activity which comes to him as his mentality gradually expels the material beliefs which comprised to a large extent his former view-point, and he awakens by degrees to the wonders of that spiritual consciousness characterized by the apostle as “the deep things of God.” In this thought-transforming process his concept of time undergoes a very radical change, for the hours that once were spent in toilsome search for intellectual or artistic proficiency, or were wasted, prodigal fashion, in the aimless pursuit of mere amusement, assume the character of multitudes of “golden” moments, the conservation and righteous employment of which do indeed make him “rich toward God.”
In his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul points to an exceedingly important phase of watchfulness when he says, “See . . . that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” To redeem means “to regain possession of by payment of a stipulated price.” “Redeeming the time,” then, means regaining possession of time, that is, a correct understanding of what time signifies, by payment of “a stipulated price:” On page 60 of “Miscellaneous Writings” Mrs. Eddy says: “Every material belief hints the existence of spiritual reality; and if mortals are instructed in spiritual things, it will be seen that material belief, in all its manifestations, reversed, will be found the type and representative of verities priceless, eternal, and just at hand.”
We therefore recognize that since time is finite, limited, with both beginning and end, its opposite or reversal is eternity, which is infinite, unlimited, without beginning or end. Therefore in our effort to redeem the time, what we in reality regain possession of is the mental equilibrium to think in terms of eternity,—in other words, the ability to grasp and make practical in our lives the facts of spiritual causation, creation, and being, which like God are “the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” In this scientific understanding of God’s eternal day, time, the material counterfeit and mortal misconception, takes flight, and we realize the inspiring truth that we are individually working out our salvation of unfoldment as God’s ideas in His infinite plan and under His all-embracing laws of guidance and protection.
In the tenth chapter of Revelation it is stated that the angel “sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, . . . that there should be time no longer.” What a liberating thought this is! How we are freed from the enslaving claims of race, heredity, age, and the mesmeric suggestions of disease, as we breathe the atmosphere of this refreshing thought of God’s eternal day! No evil can strike at us, nor can any hurtful argument frighten or attack us, “for there shall be no night there,”—nothing that savors of darkness or terror. Secure in this consciousness, we can combat as unreal every lie that would dethrone in us the assurance of man’s indestructible life in God.
Is this peaceful and illuminating consciousness ours for the asking? Is it a free gift from God, or is it bought with a price, “a stipulated price,” as the definition quoted asserts? In one sense we may say that it is a gift from God, since God bestows all good on man, and whatever partakes of the nature of Love is of God, and is His free gift; but it becomes ours only as we honestly earn it. Just as the student of mathematics wins his reward of a correctly solved problem by diligent application to the rules involved, or the musical artist attains the achievement of a beautifully rendered program through persistent daily practice, so we, in our work of regaining and possessing forever the kingdom of heaven or consciousness of absolute harmony, have also a definite price to pay, “for,” as the apostle says, “ye are bought with a price.”
What is the stipulated price we are required to pay for this demonstrable knowledge that we eternally “live, and move, and have our being” in God, good, whereby we may prove that this state of existence is at hand for all men to experience and enjoy? The answer is embodied in Jesus’ reply to the rich young man, who came “running,” so eager was he to inquire what he should do to inherit eternal life. The Master enumerated the commandments and counseled him to obey them. Whereupon the impetuous questioner replied with a little of the self-righteousness which goes with strict adherence to the mere letter of the law, “All these have I observed from my youth.” Jesus “beholding him loved him;” nevertheless, he did not hesitate to lay bare the materiality and poverty of the young man’s thought, but said, “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”
Not all the worldly wealth of this young man could buy for him the treasure he coveted, namely, eternal life; if it could have done so, we can imagine with what impulsive extravagance he would have poured out a portion of his riches at Jesus’ feet. What could purchase it for him, then? Nothing less than the very mental characteristics which he at that moment lacked,—the qualities of meekness, wisdom, selflessness, love, mercy, Christlikeness. The price to be paid for the acquirement of these rare virtues was to go and sell, get rid of, whatsoever he had,—whatever in his consciousness was material. Pride of worldly possessions and faith in matter must be cast out to make room for thoughts of purity and love,—a more enduring sense of substance.
And would the price then be paid? Not until these spiritual graces so dearly bought were intelligently used, reflected to others. “Give to the poor,” Jesus said; that is, prove to the receptive heart the truth of God’s universal loving-kindness, “and thou shalt have treasure in heaven,”—the imperishable truth of life as God will be yours through demonstration. But that is not all, for the Master continued, “And come, take up the cross, and follow me,”—forsake worldly aims and affections, exchange these mocking concepts of happiness for the “beauty of holiness,” which is the adornment of a life consecrated through self-sacrifice and self-discipline to the demonstration of God as divine Love. The demand of the Master that this young man put away his earthly riches would seem to indicate that in this instance the sacrifice of the material was essential to the gain of spiritual riches, and the sorrow expressed by the would-be seeker for “eternal life” confirms the correctness of his diagnosis.
Each one at some period of his career is called upon to stand the test of this or some kindred change of life-interests, and to meet the demand of the Christ-principle which asks: Are you willing to pay the price required? Are you ready to sell all that you have—your “treasures upon earth”—that you may purchase this “pearl of great price”? How sincerely do you desire a demonstrable knowledge of God? The young man was honest in thinking he wanted to inherit eternal life, but when it came to a question of giving up what he tangibly had for something that involved distinct self-sacrifice, he “went away grieved;” he was, for the moment at least, unequal to the test.
On page 138 of “Miscellaneous Writings” Mrs. Eddy says, “The detail of conforming to society, in any way, costs you what it would to give time and attention to hygiene in your ministry and healing.” This may seem narrowing to the worldly mind, but if we truly wish to advance in the demonstration of God’s law, we cannot expect to measure up to the world’s standards, nor to receive the shallow approval of human opinion. The time must be redeemed, not by intermittent, half-hearted service, but by spiritualizing our thoughts, motives, and aims, and by consecrating each moment to a deeper and more comprehensive knowledge of Truth through faithful study and practice. Thus only are we paving the stipulated price.
What higher aim could we have than to reflect the Christ-spirit so spontaneously in our lives that the radiation of our thoughts will bless and heal those looking to the light of Truth, as the woman was made whole who came behind Jesus and touched the hem of his garment. On page 247 of “The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany” Mrs. Eddy writes: “Christ is meekness and Truth enthroned. Put on the robes of Christ, and you will be lifted up and will draw all men unto you.” We clothe ourselves in these shining robes only as we become pure in heart, selfless in desire, loving in deed, and as we renewedly dedicate our lives to the highest service on earth,—healing the sick and sinning, and preaching the glad tidings of “on earth peace, good will toward men.”