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"An Understanding Heart"
ELLA W. HOAG, CSD


         When God said to Solomon, "Ask what I shall give thee," Solomon replied, "Give . . . thy servant an understanding heart, . . . that I may discern between good and bad." And the Bible further records that "the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing." All true Christian Scientists are also praying for an understanding heart; they too are longing to be able to "discern between good and bad" and thereby please God.

         In spite of such prayers many of them are still wondering why their understanding does not increase more rapidly, — why they are not able more quickly and accurately to separate between the true and the false. May it be that one reason for this inability is that they are believing this understanding belongs to the head rather than to the heart?

         For ages human belief, attempting to consider things mentally, has called intellectualism intelligence and has then denominated this supposed intelligence as the head, attributing to it the balance of power. It has at the same time named the affections the heart, often imagining the latter to be of far less importance than the former. It has therefore come to regard intelligence and the affections as separate activities, each largely if not entirely independent of the other, and both dependent upon matter.

         Solomon, however, must have seen that in asking for an understanding heart he was seeking that intelligence and love which could be the outcome of Spirit, God, alone. He must also have glimpsed the fact that these qualities must be united in action if both are to function properly.

         Christian Science, looking to God for all things, teaches that while the intelligence and love which are reflected from God are individual, yet they must be united in order for either to be truly effective in action and thereby constitute an understanding heart. To imagine that intelligence could be divine unless associated with love is as impossible as to conceive of love being true unless governed absolutely by intelligence.

         Christian Scientists, therefore, in praying for the intelligence and love which are able to separate between the true and the false, between the spiritual and the material, need always to guard against that theoretical intellectualism which is one of the greatest barriers to the clear differentiation between good and evil. Calling itself intelligence and vaunting its claims as supreme, intellectualism is always grasping for what it calls a soaring vision, and so inevitably fails to apprehend that spirituality which sees here and now even as God sees.

         A wise writer once said, "The light of the understanding humility kindleth, and pride covereth." It is, then, only through that humility which lays down all sense of personal pride and power, of personal ability and inability, that the understanding heart may be gained, — that heart which divides correctly between that which is of God, good, and is therefore eternal, and that which pertains to the devil, evil, and is transitory, unreal.

         Still another reason why the understanding heart seems to the Christian Scientist slow of attainment is that in his effort to become impersonal in his thinking he is apt to jump to an extreme. He may be willing to admit that both intelligence and love are necessary if he is to express Christlikeness; but in his endeavor to do this he may all too frequently forget about the heart. Instead of seeing that divine intelligence always cherishes every least sign of kindly affection that it may grow and unfold into a larger sense of love, he is too often betrayed into refusing to welcome it either in his own thinking or in that of others. With the head — his belief of intellectualism — holding sway, he turns aside from the simple, kindly acts so important to our Christian living today, thinking of them as of too little consequence to be regarded.

         More mistaken still, if counseled to treat with love and tenderness those who may be acting contrary to his opinion of what is right and best, he replies that such conduct on his part would be merely personal love and would have a tendency to cover evil, and therefore should not be entertained or expressed. Again, is he not losing sight of the heart? Surely the great loving heart of God never leaves outside of His tender care any of His children, and if we are to reflect Him we shall never fail to see that when reflecting intelligence we shall love wisely and when reflecting love we must inevitably be truly intelligent. This is the unity of good which the understanding heart always expresses!

         The Christian Scientist therefore can gain an understanding heart only as he accepts and lives the truth that the tender heart of our Father-Mother God embraces all intelligence and love and is perpetually pouring these divine qualities out upon all His creation. How exquisitely our beloved Leader has written in her poem, "Signs of the Heart" (Poems, p. 24),

"O Love divine,
This heart of Thine
Is all I need to comfort mine."

         As one learns to relinquish the claims of personal arrogance and ignorance, declining to admit or cherish any sense of that which is not of God, he comes into that mental state to which Mrs. Eddy refers in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 140), where she says: "We shall obey and adore in proportion as we apprehend the divine nature and love Him understandingly, warring no more over the corporeality, but rejoicing in the affluence of our God. Religion will then be of the heart and not of the head. Mankind will no longer be tyrannical and prescriptive from lack of love, — straining out gnats and swallowing camels."

         Dear God! we pray Thee hasten the day when our hearts shall be conscious of thus reflecting Thine in perfect spiritual understanding! Then Thy intelligence and Thy love will enable all men to separate entirely and forever between the true and the false, the real and the unreal, and Thy kingdom shall be known to reign in earth, even as it does in heaven!

 

"'An Understanding Heart'" by Ella W. Hoag, CSD
The Christian Science Journal, October, 1925
 

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