Blessed are the poor in spirit – A Christian Science Perspective

The First Beatitude – Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

When a mortal surveys the universe it sees, one or more of the following attitudes
may be present: “I want it all.” “I want to do it all.” “I have it all.” “I know it all.”

If we follow this line of thinking a little further, the truth may be more like this:

“I want it all . . . but only the good part of the material world; don’t bother me with
the moral or spiritual aspects.”

“I want to do it all . . . but only if it is fun and pleasurable for me.”

“I have it all . . . but I must need more, because I am never satisfied.”

“I know it all . . . but I live in fear that others will discover I really don’t under-
stand it all, or that there is something I am missing.”

When these attitudes fail us in our hours of need, a voice from within struggles to
be heard: “God help me!” This is where the First Beatitude kicks in.

“God help me!” This simple statement is tossed out casually, even humorously,
countless times a day by many people. If they only knew that the true idea
behind these words — humbly approached and sincerely felt — could lift them out
of their troubles, perhaps they would not take God’s name in vain this way.

“God help me.” Can He really help us, and do we deserve His help? Jesus brought
us the good news, which said, in essence, that we are all God’s beloved children.
We have a right to be joyful, even blissful, as the word “blessed” in each of the
Beatitudes indicates. In the Beatitudes, found in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus
outlines for us the necessary steps to take to realize our status as the spiritual
children of God, made in His “image and likeness.”

Jesus offers us promises and rewards in the Beatitudes. He explains the “cost.”
Being receptive to this message of the Christ, means receiving freely God’s grace
and light. We are also expected to let these gifts soften our hearts and change our
attitudes, so that we are prepared to receive more light. The Beatitudes — or as we
might say, the “attitudes to be” — start at the point where we realize we need
God’s help. From there, each unfoldment of light, or improved understanding,
brings us new vistas and new responsibilities. The rewards are priceless.

The First Step – Becoming “poor in spirit”

William Barclay, in his book “The Gospel of Matthew, Volume One,” explains that
the Greek word for poor “describes absolute and abject poverty . . . it describes
the poverty which is beaten to its knees.” He continues to state “the Jews had a
special way of using the word Poor.” It can describe a “man, who, because he has
no earthly resources whatever, puts his whole trust in God.”

In the first Beatitude, Jesus is not glorifying material poverty, as some may assume.
There is nothing “blessed” about the miseries of extreme poverty. The added phrase
“in spirit” alerts us to the fact that Jesus is referring to a lack of spiritual resources
or spiritual attitude. One way to paraphrase this Beatitude might be “how joyful are
those who become aware of their lack of spiritual sense, and admit they need God’s
help.” They are the ones who sincerely cry out on bended knees, physically or
mentally, in their darkest hours: “God help me.”

If Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount with this Beatitude, it must be important.
Indeed, it is the jumping-off point of our spiritual journey. The question may be
asked: how do we position ourselves to begin at this beginning? Each individual
has his or her own path, his or her own unique mission and experiences in life. Each
will have a different “road” to take.  Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of
Christian Science, uses a phrase which summarizes two basic ways of moving forward spiritually:  “suffering or Science.”  In other words, we can be forced by unpleasant circumstances to stop what we are doing and pay attention to God, or we can think and
reason our way to divine Truth on a regular basis!  “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.”

We learn from the New Testament, as well as in the teachings of Christian Science, that there are qualities  of mortal thought that seem to block or cloud our vision. There are also opposite spiritual qualities that can provide clarity of thought. These qualities can have an effect on the kind of attitudes we impart. They can determine whether or not we see our need for God’s help, and open our thought to Him, or whether we depend upon other so-called powers.

In addition to the balance of material versus spiritual qualities in our thinking, we
can suddenly find ourselves knocked down on our knees and blinded by the light,
such as the Apostle Paul experienced on the road to Damascus. This can happen
to anyone when there is an important need for God to be heard in our hearts, and we
have not been listening — or worse, we have heard, but not obeyed. The story of Jonah
and the Whale is a good example of this. These experiences can melt resistance to God
rather abruptly!

An easier way is to monitor our thoughts, words, and actions on a daily basis. We
can strive for “self-knowledge.” We can become aware of our attitudes. If we can
cast out the evil suggestions that war against God, we will be in a better position to hear
God’s voice. We cannot claim the “kingdom of heaven” as ours, as Jesus promised in the
first Beatitude, unless our consciousness is cleared of the debris that would hide it from us.

Material qualities that impoverish us

In my studies on the Beatitudes, I have collected from various writings a list of
mortal qualities, or attitudes, that keep us from turning to God as the source of all
good and wisdom. These qualities make us “rich in material thinking.” Our goal is
to awake to see how “poor in spirit” we are. These material attitudes keep us from
recognizing our spiritual poverty.

If you are sincerely interested in entering the realm of this first Beatitude, and molding your lives accordingly, you might wish to carefully ponder these qualities and see if they are present or active in your daily thinking. A collection of citations relating to these qualities is found later in this essay.  I have sorted them into three main categories:

PRIDE — of race, religion, nationality, culture, gender, economic class, scholarship, fame, personal goodness and self-righteousness, personal intellect, skills, and talents; conceit, vanity, “know-it-allness.”

FEAR — of criticism, disapproval of family and friends, public ridicule; fear of the loss of popularity, social prestige, power or authority over others, cherished beliefs, habits of thought, preconceived personal opinions, worldly honors or distinction, material possessions, money, material pleasures.

IGNORANCE — willful ignorance; easily influenced by false suggestions; easily manipulated by others or the media; superficial thinking or reasoning; covetousness; prone to sentiment rather than to sound thinking; believing versus understanding; ingratitude; selfishness, apathy, indifference, prejudice, intolerance.

A lot to think about! But that is what the first Beatitude does — it is asking us to let
God shed new light on our situation and see that we have been depending upon the
undependable! We have to lose our trust in materialism, or material thinking. We
have to drop our hold upon it and cling to God instead.

By indulging in the sinful thinking outlined above, we darken our thought. Unless we can recognize this harmful influence, perhaps through our prayers, our Biblical and metaphysical studies, our observance of other’s examples, reasoning, or revelation, we may find ourselves in a situation, or state of mind, that seems hopeless. We become desperate. We are forced to admit that we cannot solve our problems with our own resources, either material or intellectual. At this point, we can either give up, or kneel in humility and say, “God help me.”

How do we rid ourselves of the harmful attitudes and take on the attitudes that bless?  In Christian Science, we are taught that the material qualities can be seen as no part of God’s creation, and therefore have no real substance or place in our being.  We deny their power or reality.  We are taught that spiritual qualities find their source in God, and therefore are real and eternal.  It is the purpose of man to show forth these spiritual qualities in our lives, in order to bear witness to God, to express Him.  Our daily meditation or prayer includes denying sin, or error, so that we do not find ourselves mesmerized by these mortal suggestions that seem to bombard us from the world, and it includes affirming truths about God and man that we wish to experience and express.  This method is part of the system of Christian Science healing, which has proven to heal sickness and sin, as well as purifying our character and uplifting morals.  The first Beatitude is a reminder of the importance of staying in touch with God and seeking His will and wisdom.

The kingdom of heaven

The reward of those who are “poor in spirit” is the kingdom of heaven.  What exactly is the kingdom of heaven? Jesus told a number of parables for his followers to ponder (see Matthew 13). These were appropriate for the level of spiritual receptivity of his times, and still have much food for thought. Today, in the revelation of Christian Science, we have new views of the kingdom of heaven. You will find explanations of the “kingdom of heaven” in the following pages under the Citations. You will find that the kingdom of heaven is not a far off physical location, but a state of mind — a reign of divine harmony in consciousness.

According to William Barclay, the translation of the phrase “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” indicates that it is in the present tense. The “poor in spirit” possess the kingdom now not later, not as a future reward. How is it possible to possess the kingdom of heaven now? The ever-presence of God’s kingdom is a major theme in the teachings of Christian Science, which will be explained in the Citations section.  The point being made now is that the negative attitude, or state of being spiritually poor hides the very presence of God. But, the moment one awakes from this nightmare — the belief that one has a mind or life separate from God — this new awareness opens the eyes to the presence of God’s kingdom. It is the awareness and recognition of being “poor in spirit” that brings the light. The kingdom becomes a possession by the very fact that we all already live there! As Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount: “for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

When we come to this point — the point of recognition that we are spiritually poor and we need God’s help — how does this attitude alone deserve the reward promised by Jesus, that of “the kingdom of heaven”? For additional insight, we can turn to this account in Matthew 18: “Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

In reading further in Matthew, we find there are two other requirements. Jesus said that we must do “the will of my Father which is in heaven.” He tells us that “a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The first Beatitude, then, supports these requirements when it indicates that the kingdom of heaven is to be possessed by those who are “poor in spirit” — those who recognize that material riches are no help and that they are ready to follow God’s will.

Spiritual qualities that enrich us

To enter the kingdom of heaven, then, we must “become as little children.” Jesus is
not telling us to return to our physical childhood (as if we could!), or to take on a
childish or immature demeanor. He is recommending that we take on the pure,
innocent childlike qualities that are native to our true spiritual selves. From my
studies on the First Beatitude, I can sum up those qualities in three main categories:

Teachableness and receptivity to good

Humbleness and humility


Those particular qualities that seem so natural to most children, are ones that can
be easily lost sight of as we are burdened with layers of worldliness, materiality,
and mortal egotism. Jesus is telling us that to receive our ownership of the kingdom
of heaven, we must shed those layers, and let the childlike qualities shine through
and soften our hearts.

Below you will find a list of citations from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, related to the
above qualities, plus a few more.  These can be used in study or teaching Sunday School.

We have work to do.  We must yield to God’s will and wisdom.  If we don’t forward this process willingly, or we have been tuning God out of our lives for a while, we may have to have more than one jolting experience to get us to humble ourselves before God, and ask for His help and guidance. Even when we do consecrate ourselves to a more spiritual life, we must make this choice every day. The very act of turning in prayer to God, acknowledging Him as the Supreme Being, and thanking Him for all His blessings, is the demonstration of the attitude of the “poor in spirit.”


“The Poor”

“We cannot choose for ourselves, but must work out our salvation in the way Jesus
taught. In meekness and might he was found preaching the gospel to the poor.”
(S&H 30)

“Praying for humility with whatever fervency of expression does not always mean a
desire for it. If we turn away from the poor, we are not ready to receive the reward
of Him who blesses the poor.” (S&H 8)

“The poor suffering heart needs its rightful nutriment, such as peace, patience in
tribulation, and a priceless sense of the dear Father’s loving-kindness.” (S&H 365)

“The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same
Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother’s need and supplieth
it, seeking his own in another’s good. Love giveth to the least spiritual idea might,
immortality, and goodness, which shine through all as the blossom shines through the
bud.” (S&H 518)

“The loss of material objects of affection sunders the dominant ties of earth and
points to heaven.” (Retrospection and Introspection 31)

“The feverish pride of sects and systems is the death’s-head at the feast of Love, but
Christianity is ever storming sin in its citadels, blessing the poor in spirit and keeping
peace with God.” (Message of 1901)

“The Stranger enters a massive carved stone mansion, and saith unto the dwellers
therein, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ But they
understand not his saying. . . . These are believers of different sects, and of no sect;
some, so-called Christian Scientists in sheep’s clothing; and all ‘drunken without
wine.’ They have small conceptions of spiritual riches, few cravings for the immortal,
but are puffed up with the applause of the world: they have plenty of pelf, and fear not
to fall upon the Stranger, seize his pearls, throw them away, and afterwards try to kill
him.” (Mis. 325)

“Is poverty crying aloud in the land? Then we should know the purpose of God is rich
in blessing to the poor — in Spirit. The fullness of the earth belongs to the healthful
circulation of honesty, virtue and progress in the footsteps of Truth.” (quoted in
Divinity Course and General Collectanea, pg. 97)

Becoming “as little children”

“The sharp experiences of belief in the supposititious life of matter, as well as our disappointments and ceaseless woes, turn us like tired children to the arms of divine
Love. Then we begin to learn Life in divine Science. Without this process of weaning,
‘Canst thou by searching find out God?'” (S&H 322)

“Jesus loved little children because of their freedom from wrong and their receptive-
ness of right. While age is halting between two opinions or battling with false beliefs,
youth makes easy and rapid strides towards Truth.” (S&H 236)

“Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders
thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy
to see them disappear, — this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony.
The purification of sense and self is a proof of progress.” (S&H 323)

“When, as little children, we are receptive, become willing to accept the divine
Principle and rule of being, as unfolded in divine Science, the interpretation therein
will be found to be the Comforter that leadeth into all truth.” (Mis. 189)

“The new birth is not the work of a moment. It begins with moments, and goes on
with years; moments of surrender to God, of childlike trust and joyful adoption of
good; moments of self-abnegation, self-consecration, heaven-born hope, and spiritual
love.” (Mis. 15)

“A child can measurably understand Christian Science, for, through his simple faith
and purity, he takes in its spiritual sense that puzzles the man. The child not only
accepts Christian Science more readily than the adult, but he practices it. This
notable fact proves that the so-called fog of this Science obtains not in the Science,
but in the material sense which the adult entertains of it.” (Message of 1900)

Teachableness and Receptiveness

“Humanity advances slowly out of sinning sense into spiritual understanding;
unwillingness to learn all things rightly, binds Christendom with chains.” (S&H 95)

“Parents should teach their children at the earliest possible period the truths of health
and holiness. Children are more tractable than adults, and learn more readily to love
the simple verities that will make them happy and good.” (S&H 236)

“Trials teach mortals not to lean on a material staff, — a broken reed, which pierces
the heart.” (S&H 66)

“A third class of thinkers build with solid masonry. They are sincere, generous,
noble, and are therefore open to the approach and recognition of Truth. To teach
Christian Science to such as these is no task. They do not incline longingly to error,
whine over the demands of Truth, nor play the traitor for place and power.” (S&H 450)

“We know that a desire for holiness is requisite in order to gain holiness; but if we
desire holiness above all else, we shall sacrifice everything for it. We must be
willing to do this, that we may walk securely in the only practical road to holiness.
Prayer cannot change the unalterable Truth, nor can prayer alone give us an under-
standing of Truth; but prayer, coupled with a fervent habitual desire to know and do
the will of God, will bring us into all Truth. Such a desire has little need of audible
expression. It is best expressed in thought and life.” (S&H 11)

“When the sick or the sinning awake to realize their need of what they have not, they
will be receptive of divine Science, which gravitates towards Soul and away from
material sense, removes thought from the body, and elevates even mortal mind to the
contemplation of something better than disease and sin.” (S&H 323)

“We cannot fill vessels already full. They must first be emptied. Let us disrobe error.
Then, when the winds of God blow, we shall not hug our tatters close about us.”
(S&H 201)

“If all who seek his commemoration through material symbols will take up the cross,
heal the sick, cast out evils, and preach Christ, or Truth, to the poor, — the receptive
thought, — they will bring in the millennium.” (S&H 34)

“In the walk to Emmaus, Jesus was known to his friends by the words, which made
their hearts burn within them, and by the breaking of bread. The divine Spirit, which
identified Jesus thus centuries ago, has spoken through the inspired Word and will
speak through it in every age and clime. It is revealed to the receptive heart, and is
again seen casting out evil and healing the sick.” (S&H 46)

Humbleness and Humility

“Experience shows that humility is the first step in Christian Science, wherein all is
controlled, not by man or laws material, but by wisdom, Truth, and Love.” (Mis. 354)

“When divine Love gains admittance to a humble heart, that individual ascends the
scale of miracles and meets the warmest wish of men and angels. Clad in invincible
armor, grasping the sword of Spirit, you have started in this sublime ascent, and should
reach the mount of revelation; for if ye would run, who shall hinder you? So dear, so due, to God is obedience, that it reaches high heaven in the common walks of life, and it affords even me a perquisite of joy.” (My. 188)

“Blindness and self-righteousness cling fast to iniquity. When the Publican’s wail went out
to the great heart of Love, it won his humble desire.” (S&H 448)

“The baptism of repentance is indeed a stricken state of human consciousness,
wherein mortals gain severe views of themselves; a state of mind which rends the
veil that hides mental deformity. Tears flood the eyes, agony struggles, pride rebels,
and a mortal seems a monster, a dark, impenetrable cloud of error; and falling on the
bended knee of prayer, humble before God, he cries, ‘Save, or I perish.’ Thus Truth,
searching the heart, neutralizes and destroys error.” (Mis. 203)

“When a hungry heart petitions the divine Father-Mother god for bread, it is not given a
stone, — but more grace, obedience, and love. If this heart, humble and trustful, faithfully
asks divine Love to feed it with the bread of heaven, health, holiness, it will be conformed
to a fitness to receive the answer to its desire; then will flow into it the ‘river of His pleasure,’
the tributary of divine Love, and great growth in Christian Science will follow, — even that joy which finds one’s own in another’s good.” (Mis. 127)

“What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed
in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds.” (S&H 4)

“Human pride is human weakness. Self-knowledge, humility, and love are divine
strength.” (Mis. 358)


“Trust in Truth, and have no other trusts.” (My. 171)

“Trust Truth, not error; and Truth will give you all that belongs to the rights of freedom.
The Hebrew bard wrote, ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Mis. 297-298)

“Step by step will those who trust Him find that ‘God is our refuge and strength, a
very present help in trouble.'” (S&H 444)

“If we trust matter, we distrust Spirit.” (S&H 234)

“Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they
may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.” (S&H 1)

“The first spontaneous motion of Truth and Love, acting through Christian Science on
my roused consciousness, banished at once and forever the fundamental error of faith
in things material; for this trust is the unseen sin, the unknown foe, — the heart’s untamed desire which breaketh the divine commandments.” (Ret. 31)

“The new birth is not the work of a moment. It begins with moments, and goes on with
years; moments of surrender to God, of childlike trust and joyful adoption of good;
moments of self-abnegation, self-consecration, heaven-born hope, and spiritual love.”
(Mis. 15)

“When a hungry heart petitions the divine Father-Mother God for bread, it is not
given a stone, — but more grace, obedience, and love. If this heart, humble and
trustful, faithfully asks divine Love to feed it with the bread of heaven, health,
holiness, it will be conformed to a fitness to receive the answer to its desire; then
will flow into it the ‘river of His pleasure,’ the tributary of divine Love, and great
growth in Christian Science will follow, — even that joy which finds one’s own in
another’s good.” (Mis. 127)

“To divest thought of false trusts and material evidences in order that the spiritual
facts of being may appear, — this is the great attainment by means of which we shall
sweep away the false and give place to the true.” (S&H 428)

Pride and Fear

“Pride and fear are unfit to bear the standard of Truth, and God will never place it in
such hands.” (S&H 30)

“At present mortals progress slowly for fear of being thought ridiculous. They are
slaves to fashion, pride, and sense.” (S&H 68)

“As in Jesus’ time, so to-day, tyranny and pride need to be whipped out of the temple,
and humility and divine Science to be welcomed in.” (S&H 142)

“The pride of circumstance or power is the prince of this world that has nothing in
Christ. All power and happiness are spiritual, and proceed from goodness.” (Mis. 155)

“Remember that human pride forfeits spiritual power, and either vacillating good or
self-assertive error dies of its own elements.” (Mis. 268)

“Instead of relying on the Principle of all that really exists, — to govern His own
creation, — self-conceit, ignorance, and pride would regulate God’s action.” (Mis. 354)

“Through the channels of material sense, of worldly policy, pomp, and pride, cometh
no success in Truth.” (Ret. 79)

“The true understanding of Christian Science Mind-healing never originated in pride,
rivalry, or the deification of self.” (Rudimental Divine Science 17)

“The feverish pride of sects and systems is the death’s-head at the feast of Love, but
Christianity is ever storming sin in its citadels, blessing the poor in spirit and keeping
peace with God.” (Message of 1901)

“Jesus commanded, ‘Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead;’ in other words,
Let the world, popularity, pride, and ease concern you less, and LOVE THOU.”
(Message of 1902)

“As in Jesus’ time, so to-day, tyranny and pride need to be whipped out of the temple,
and humility and divine Science to be welcomed in.” (S&H 142)


“The time for thinkers has come. Truth, independent of doctrines and time-honored
systems, knocks at the portal of humanity. Contentment with the past and the cold
conventionality of materialism are crumbling away. Ignorance of God is no longer
the steppingstone to faith. The only guarantee of obedience is a right apprehension
of Him whom to know aright is Life eternal. Though empires fall, ‘the Lord shall
reign forever.'” (S&H vii)

“The opinions of men cannot be substituted for God’s revelation. It must not be
forgotten that in times past, arrogant ignorance and pride, in attempting to steady the
ark of Truth, have dimmed the power and glory of the Scriptures, to which this
Christian Science textbook is the Key.” (Mis. 92)

“Ignorance, pride, or prejudice closes the door to whatever is not stereotyped.” (S&H 144)

“We may hide spiritual ignorance from the world, but we can never succeed in the
Science and demonstration of spiritual good through ignorance or hypocrisy.” (S&H 242)

“Ignorance, like intentional wrong, is not Science. Ignorance must be seen and
corrected before we can attain harmony.” (S&H 251)

“The only excuse for entertaining human opinions and rejecting the Science of being
is our mortal ignorance of Spirit, — ignorance which yields only to the understanding
of divine Science, the understanding by which we enter into the kingdom of Truth on
earth and learn that Spirit is infinite and supreme.” (S&H 280)

“It is ignorance and false belief, based on a material sense of things, which hide
spiritual beauty and goodness.” (S&H 304)

“It is our ignorance of God, the divine Principle, which produces apparent discord,
and the right understanding of Him restores harmony.” (S&H 390)

“We cannot spend our days here in ignorance of the Science of Life, and expect to
find beyond the grave a reward for this ignorance. Death will not make us harmonious
and immortal as a recompense for ignorance.” (S&H 409)

“The procuring cause and foundation of all sickness is fear, ignorance, or sin.” (S&H 411)

“Pride is ignorance; those assume most who have the least wisdom or experience;
and they steal from their neighbor, because they have so little of their own.” (Mis. 2)

“Ignorance was the first condition of sin in the allegory of Adam and Eve in the
garden of Eden.” (Mis. 109)

“Self-ignorance, self-will, self-righteousness, lust, covetousness, envy, revenge, are
foes to grace, peace, and progress; they must be met manfully and overcome, or they
will uproot all happiness. Be of good cheer; the warfare with one’s self is grand; it
gives one plenty of employment, and the divine Principle worketh with you, — and
obedience crowns persistent effort with everlasting victory.” (Mis. 118)

“Ignorance of self is the most stubborn belief to overcome, for apathy, dishonesty,
sin, follow in its train. One should watch to know what his errors are; and if this
watching destroys his peace in error, should one watch against such a result? He
should not. Our Master said, ‘He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me,
is not worthy of me . . . and he that loseth his life [his false sense of life] for my
sake shall find it.’ (Matthew 10:3,39) (My. 233)

Kingdom of Heaven

“What is the kingdom of heaven? The abode of Spirit, the realm of the real. No matter
is there, no night is there — nothing that maketh or worketh a lie. Is this kingdom afar
off? No: it is ever-present here.” (Miscellaneous Writings 174)

“The kingdom of heaven is the reign of divine Science: it is a mental state. Jesus said
it is within you, and taught us to pray, ‘Thy kingdom come;’ but he did not teach us to
pray for death whereby to gain heaven. We do not look into darkness for light. Death
can never usher in the dawn of Science that reveals the spiritual facts of man’s Life
here and now.” (Mis. 174)

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. The reign of harmony in divine Science; the realm of
unerring, eternal, and omnipotent Mind; the atmosphere of Spirit, where Soul is
supreme.” (S&H 590)

“Let us learn of the real and eternal, and prepare for the reign of Spirit, the kingdom
of heaven, — the reign and rule of universal harmony, which cannot be lost nor
remain forever unseen.” (S&H. 208)

“It is ‘easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle,’ than for sinful beliefs to
enter the kingdom of heaven, eternal harmony. Through repentance, spiritual baptism,
and regeneration, mortals put off their material beliefs and false individuality.”
(S&H 241)

“Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love — the kingdom of
heaven — reign within us, and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally
disappear.” (S&H 248)

“He who gains self-knowledge, self-control, and the kingdom of heaven within
himself, within his own consciousness, is saved through Christ, Truth.” (My. 161)

* * * * *

See also:

Introduction to Teaching the Beatitudes to Children

First Lessons in Christian Science: Volume Two – the Beatitudes







Teaching Children the Fifth Commandment

“Honour thy father and thy mother.”

 This essay on “Teaching Children the Fifth Commandment” is excerpted from the original essay “The Fifth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective.”  There are a few revisions.  I am also keeping this part with the original essay, because so much of the information on Bible stories are of interest to adults as well as young people in Sunday School or the home who are being taught these lessons on the Ten Commandments.  You might wish to read that essay if you are searching for ideas to use in class to teach all ages.

These ideas are based on the teachings of Christian Science as taught by Mary Baker Eddy, who is the author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.  Even if you are not a Christian Scientist, you might find some ideas worth sharing in your own Sunday School, especially in the essay mentioned above.  Just follow the link.  [Note:  For those unfamiliar with the religion of
Christian Science (which is NOT the same as Scientology!), you can read some basic information on this site at the Q&A page.]

Part of that essay in the section on the moral requirements of the Fifth Commandment are as follows:

I love how Mary Baker Eddy supports the ideas behind the Ten Commandments, including the fifth one, by encouraging us to obey the moral requirements of God’s law as outlined in the Bible. Even though our goal is to demonstrate our spiritual perfection, and not needing a bunch of “thou shalt not’s,” we all have to start our spiritual journey somewhere. The Commandments help to guide us along until we can commune easily with God and get our daily guidance direct from Him. As material beliefs fade away, we will start to see what it means to have God as our Father-Mother. As our understanding of God’s nature deepens, we will have further enlightenment about God and man. But, until then, our relationship with our earthly parents is a wonderful training ground, rich with lessons to learn. Obedience to the Fifth Commandment is one of them.

We honor our earthly parents by being obedient to them, respecting them, expressing our gratitude and appreciation for them, and doing our part to make the family circle a happy and harmonious one. We honor them by separating from them and taking care of ourselves when grown, and not putting burdens on them needlessly. We honor them by making sure they are taken care of in their senior years, if they become unable to manage on their own. We do this with love and gratitude, not grudgingly.  The Bible exhorts us to this obedience in so many ways:

“Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” (Deuteronomy 5:16)

“Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” (Col. 3:20-21)

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:1-4)


We know from the Bible that Jesus honored God and called Him, “Father.” In Christian Science, we are taught that God is also our Mother. Our authority for this is in Genesis. If God was able to create man both “male and female,” and man was made in “our” image, not just “my” image, then God must be Mother as well as Father. This interpretation was revealed to Mary Baker Eddy and to others who also see God as Mother. A fuller (and better!) explanation of God’s motherhood is found throughout “Science and Health.” Simply put, God’s motherhood is seen in Her nature as divine Love, that aspect of God which comforts, governs, inspires, plans, leads, completes, and fulfills.

In an earlier quote, we saw that Mrs. Eddy tells us that “after we have honored our father and mother, then comes the next step — forsaking the flesh for Christ.” This is telling us that we must eventually learn our true identity — that we are the offspring of God — “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” We have to forsake our old beliefs and be receptive to the message of Christ.

Any Christian Science Sunday School discussion of the Fifth Commandment, would want to include the idea that God, the divine Mind, should also be the focus of our “honor” that is due a parent. Some citations to study and discuss are:

“Mind is the grand creator, and there can be no power except that which is derived from Mind. If Mind was first chronologically, is first potentially, and must be first eternally, then give to Mind the glory, honor, dominion, and power everlastingly due its holy name.” (S&H 143:26-31)

“If Christian Science dishonors human belief, it honors spiritual understanding; and the one Mind only is entitled to honor.” (S&H 183:29)

“Honor thy Father and Mother, God. Continue in His love.”
(Miscellaneous Writings, pg. 154:23)
In 1885, Mary Baker Eddy was allowed ten minutes on the platform at Tremont Temple in Boston to answer the criticisms that had been put forth in a public letter by the pastor. Her answer to one question helps us to see her thought about God as Father-Mother, and how this concept evolves through spiritual understanding:

“Do I believe in a personal God? I believe in God as the Supreme Being. I know not what the person of omnipotence and omnipresence is, or what the infinite includes; therefore, I worship that of which I can conceive, first, as a loving Father and Mother; then, as thought ascends the scale of being to diviner consciousness, God becomes to me, as to the apostle who declared it, “God is Love,” — divine Principle, — which I worship; and after the manner of my fathers, so worship I God.'” (Miscellaneous Writings, pg. 96)

Exploring the concept of God being our Father-Mother is an on-going discovery. The Bible is full of examples of God’s care for us. The writings of Mary Baker Eddy contain countless ideas on this subject. Once we know for sure we are God’s offspring, we will want to find practical ways to honor Him in our lives. How to do that would make a good Sunday School discussion. The next section includes ideas on teaching the Fifth Commandment to children.


Throughout the preceding article on the Fifth Commandment were various ideas useful for discussions with your children or Sunday School pupils. Please refer back to those pages if you have come directly to this page seeking help for teaching the Fifth Commandment to children.

Below are a few more ideas for sharing with Sunday School children, in the light of the teachings of Christian Science.

After explaining the concept of “honor,” ask the class to come up with the qualities that would make an ideal mom and dad — ones that children would want to honor. Perhaps record the ideas on paper. Discuss the synonyms of God, and how the qualities that originate in these different aspects of God’s nature can be expressed by man. Get across the idea that we never lack these qualities in our experience since they come from God and do not originate with “persons.” Ask the kids how they might want to share these same qualities with their families and others.

Focus a class on the idea of Love — Mother — as “leader.” Look up citations that support the idea that Love leads. “Lead us not into temptation.” “Love…designates and leads the way.”

Mrs. Eddy as “Mother,” then “Leader.” We honor Love for leading us. Ask them to consider the possibility of being a “mother” to themselves, when needed. How might we do this? Role play the “self talk” needed to use this concept in certain situations.

Discuss the concept of “reflection” with regard to our relationship to God. What does this mean? How should a reflection or expression of God behave? Or think? Or reason? Or pray? How does reflection “honor” God or our parents? Discuss honoring the qualities of Life (Father) and Love (Mother) in our own thoughts. How can we learn to listen and obey (honor) these qualities? How do we put down the undisciplined animal instincts in order to demonstrate our identity as pure reflections of Life and Love? How do we stand up for God in the face of aggressive mental suggestions to disobey Mind? Is thwarting this activity of animal magnetism a form of obedience to the Fifth Commandment? Why?

For little children, ask what kind of family rules they have in their home. Discuss the good that comes with obedience, then talk about the consequences of disobedience.

Tell them that if we try to obey all of the Ten Commandments from God, then we will be obeying the Fifth Commandment, since we will be honoring God when we follow His rules for His family. We also obey the Fifth Commandment when we follow the commands of Jesus, our “brother,” who came to show us what our Father-Mother God is like.

Little kids are very keen on the word “promise.” “But, you PROMISED me we would go to the zoo if I was good.” Show them that promise mentioned in the Fifth Commandment. Discuss the power and presence of God and how it would be impossible for Him to break a promise. But what is our part of the deal? Perhaps make a list of things they promise to do the next week that would exercise their ability to obey their parents. Or, list one or two ways they could improve their obedience to one of the Ten Commandments, such as telling the truth or not taking things that do not belong to them.


Imparting a clear and deep understanding of the Fifth Commandment may be one of the most important gifts we can give to our children, to ourselves, and to society.  It provides a solid foundation for a successful life.  Mrs. Eddy wrote this in Cosmopolitan in 1907:

“Dear reader, right thinking, right feeling, and right acting — honesty, purity, unselfishness — in youth tend to success, intellectuality, and happiness in manhood. To begin rightly enables one to end rightly, and thus it is that one achieves the Science of Life, demonstrates health, holiness, and immortality.”  (Miscellany 274)

And to the members of her church in her Message of 1901, Mrs. Eddy saluted those who obey the Fifth Commandment in this way:

“All honor and success to those who honor their father and mother.”

 Copyright 2002, 2010, 2018  Vicki Jones Cole

The Fifth Commandment – For Young Children – (from the book)

The Fifth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective, Part One
[Background material useful in teaching older students.  Sections in Part One include the following:  Biblical Background; Jesus and the Fifth Commandment; Jesus Visits Jerusalem at Passover; The Wedding at Cana; Part Two includes:  Jesus Honors True Kinship; The Hypocrisy of Corban; Jesus and Mary at the Cross; Jesus and His Father;  Part Three includes: “Moral Obedience to the 5th Commandment; Honoring our Father-Mother God; Teaching the Fifth Commandment in Sunday School]

About this blog and a Welcome
Questions and Answers on Christian Science

Teaching Children the Sixth Commandment
Teaching Children the Ten Commandments

A good foundation for teaching all these lessons to your children or Sunday School pupils is to start with this essay on Teaching Children the First Commandment.  It contains ideas for helping children understand its deeper meaning and how to live “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” in daily life. See also the First Commandment daily lessons in Ten Commandments book.

For daily lessons on the Fifth Commandment found on this site in the book “First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume One: The Ten Commandments” – follow the link to the main page and scroll down to the links on the Fifth Commandment.  The other volumes in this series are
Volume Two:  The Beatitudes and Volume Three:  The Lord’s Prayer.  

List of Essays relating to teaching the Ten Commandments and other Bible subjects

Some of the essays useful for teaching children at home or in Sunday School:

Introducing Children to the Concept of God
Teaching Children about the Golden Rule
Teaching Children about Angels
Teaching Children the 23rd Psalm
Introduction to Teaching the Beatitudes to Children
The Beatitudes for Young Children
What Mary Baker Eddy Writes about Teaching Children

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The Tenth Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective

“Thou shalt not covet” 


Has anyone ever coveted or been envious of another because they had lots of number twos to use in their math applications?  Or the number five?  Or any number?  Probably not.  Why is that?  It is because numbers are not objects or images on a page of homework; they are ideas, ideas available to anyone at anytime at any place.  No one needs to feel deprived of numbers.  There is no reason to desire or covet them.  They are within consciousness, mental ideas.  This is a hint as to what Christian Science teaches about the ever-availability of spiritual ideas, the true objects and creation of the divine Mind, God.  More on that later.

As explained in my book for teaching children (First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume One: The Ten Commandments) found elsewhere on this site, this Tenth Commandment is unique because it forbids a certain way of thinking, rather than a certain way of acting.  This prepares us to learn that our thinking determines our experience.

Basically, what does “covet” mean?  It means to have an extremely strong desire, or wish, to possess something.  Most likely it is something owned by another person.  Covet is similar in meaning to other words, such as envy, desire, lust, and crave.  We will take a look at what the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy say about each of those terms as we go along.


The full text of the Tenth Commandment found in Exodus 20 (King James’ Version) reads:

“The shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbours.”

We find a helpful explanation in The Interpreter’s Bible:

“The Tenth Commandment – The word translated house really means ‘household,’ and the rest of the commandment is an explication of the scope of that word. . . . In the early days when the first Greek translation of the Hebrew text was made, the scholars used a word in Greek which clearly means ‘to set one’s heart upon a thing,’ and Deuteronomy uses another Hebrew word which makes it doubly sure that the intention here is to prohibit grasping thoughts that lead to grasping deeds.” (The Interpreter’s Bible: Volume One, p. 988)

One early Bible character that illustrates the negative consequences and shame of “grasping deeds” is David.  David is known as the courageous shepherd boy who challenged Goliath and was a devoted friend, among other good qualities.  He loved God.  He was made King.  But when he became besotted by Bathsheba, who was already married to Uriah, he forgot the Tenth Commandment and behaved horribly, against his better nature, and arranged for Uriah to go to the front of a battle, where he was killed.  David then took Bathsheba as his own.  But when the prophet Nathan confronted him about his deed, David was ashamed.  He and Bathsheba lost their first child, though later were blessed by the son Solomon, who became a wise king.  See this full story in chapters 11 and 12 of II Samuel.

Another “grasper” who coveted was Ahab, who wanted the vineyard of a neighbor, Naboth.  He tried to buy the vineyard from him, but Naboth explained that the vineyard had been an inheritance from his fathers and could not part with it.  Ahab’s evil wife, Jezebel, took matters into her own hands.  She arranged for Naboth to be wrongfully accused of blasphemy, for which he was stoned to death.  Afterward, Ahab, at Jezebel’s insistence, took possession of the vineyard he coveted.  This time God sent another prophet, Elijah, to Ahab.  The punishment was quite severed for both Ahab and Jezebel.  See I King, chapter 21 for the full story.

Covetousness can often be the motive behind greed, which is a quality of being extremely grasping.  The book of Proverbs warns of greed:

“He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house.” (Proverb 15:27)

“The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.  He coveteth greedily all the day long; but the righteous giveth and spareth not.” (Proverb 21:25, 26)

Why be greedy, when God tells us He will supply what we really need.  We just have to learn to trust Him, as the Israelites were taught:

“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.”  (Psalm 37:4, 5)

The Interpreter’s Bible further explains the uniqueness of the Tenth Commandment and what it would have meant for the Hebrews of Old Testament times:

“The commandment is one of the early insights into the fact that the inner life of man determines destiny.  Here we step from the outer world of act and word, of crime and punishment, into the secret place where all good and evil begin, the heart of man.

“The inwardness of the last words of the Decalogue make them the very threshold of the New Testament.  There is no doubt that Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, had the Ten Commandments in mind.”  (The Interpreter’s Bible: Volume One, p. 988)


Jesus was very clear in his Sermon on the Mount that God should come not only come first in our hearts, but should be the one and only God we worship:

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)

“Mammon” refers to wealth or riches.  We are not to make idols of wealth nor do we want to become slaves to it.  But does this mean we cannot have wealth?  God certainly would want His children to share in the abundance of His riches.  Jesus doesn’t preclude abundance, but he tells us what our priorities should be:

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

However, Jesus explicitly denounced the sin of covetousness.  In Luke 12, we read that Jesus was approached by a man who said unto him “Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.”  Jesus replied:  Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?”  Then he laid out this warning:

“Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15)

In the Gospel of Mark, we see “covetousness” included in a list of evil things:

“Out of the heart of men . . . proceed evil thoughts . . . covetousness . . . these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:21-23)

Again, we see the idea that while the motive of covetousness may be unseen by others, it is nevertheless harmful to man.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in her textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

“Jesus declared that to look with desire on forbidden objects was to break a moral precept.  He laid great stress on the action of the human mind, unseen to the senses.” (Science and Health, p. 234)

It is not just material objects (or wives, or cattle, or houses!) that can stir up covetousness, but self-centered ambition for position or honors or attention can, as well.  For instance, the mother of two disciples of Jesus (James and John) appealed to Jesus for her sons to sit on his right and left sides “in thy kingdom” (see Matthew 20:20-28). Another account of the episode indicates James and John approached Jesus on their own (see Mark 10:35-45).  Jesus rightly refused to bestow this honor and the request stirred up resentment among the other disciples.

We also read in the New Testament what the Apostle Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Hebrews:

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have.” (Hebrews 13:5)


[NOTE:  For those unfamiliar with the religion of Christian Science, which is NOT
the same as Scientology!) you can read about it on the Questions and Answers page.]

In the first creation story at the beginning of Genesis, we read:

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

“Very good.”  In Christian Science, we learn this means that God’s man is complete, lacking nothing.  He is, as the first chapter of Genesis tells us, made in the “image and likeness” of God.  If this is true, how can this “reflection” be, or have, anything less than what God imparts to all?  God is Spirit, as the Bible also tells us.  Therefore, man is His spiritual idea, perfect as the Mind that made him and cares for him.

While mortals may feel lack and covet what others may seem to have, we each have a spiritual identity that includes all we need, especially qualities and talents uniquely expressed by each one.

In Christian Science, it is necessary to rid our thought of negative qualities that would hinder our spiritual growth, just as we would pull out weeds in a garden.  Covetousness is certainly a weed we would not want in our garden of thoughts.  Mary Baker Eddy writes:

“Envy, evil thinking, evil speaking, covetousness, lust, hatred, malice, are always wrong, and will break the rule of Christian Science and prevent its demonstration.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 19)

It is important in the practice of Christian Science that we obey the Ten Commandments and learn to discipline our thoughts so that our actions conform to these laws. In his book “The Decalogue; Its Spiritual Significance,” the author Ames Nowell writes on the Tenth Commandment:

“As long as one believes that there is something ‘out there’ apart from God, good, and one is coveting it, this Commandment is being broken . . . the allness of God is actually being denied.”

Mary Baker Eddy also writes:

“Self-ignorance, self-will, self-righteousness, lust, covetousness, envy, revenge, are foes to grace, peace, and progress; they must be met manfully and overcome, or they will uproot all happiness.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 118)

There are specific sins which can contribute to covetousness and are just as important to overcome.  These are greed, envy and jealousy, lust, and wrong desires.  We will take a closer look at these terms below:


Envy, like covetousness, is simply wanting what someone else has, but it often includes some resentment, or even hate, toward the person who owns what we would like to have.

From my book on the Ten Commandments, we also learn about jealousy:  “It is often confused with envy.  Jealousy is the fear that another person might take away something we believe belongs only to us (such as our best friend!).  Even though it is different from envy, it is still a negative emotion that we should cast out.  Shakespeare called these feelings ‘the green-eyed monster.’  It can sure seem that way!”  (“First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume One: The Ten Commandments,” p. 60)

“Pride, envy, or jealousy seems on most occasions to be the master of ceremonies, ruling out primitive Christianity.” (Science and Health, p. 64)

You might think, if envy and jealousy are only in my thoughts and I’m not hurting anyone, why are they wrong? Because we do hurt ourselves by indulging these sins.  And God needs you, His cherished child, to be pure of heart to be fit for service to mankind! Mary Baker Eddy lays it out:

Envy is the atmosphere of hell.” (Message of 1901, p. 3)

“Envy, the great red dragon of this hour, would obscure the light of Science.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 254)

“A moral question may hinder the recovery of the sick.  Lurking error, lust, envy, revenge, malice, or hate will perpetuate or even create the belief in disease.” (Science and Health, p. 419)

Fortunately for mankind, the teachings of Christian Science give us the tools we need to lessen and destroy these sinful thoughts.

“You must give much time to self-examination and correction; you must control appetite, passion, pride, envy, evil-speaking, resentment.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 137)

“The anatomy of Christian Science teaches when and how to probe the self-inflicted wounds of selfishness, malice, envy, and hate.” (Science and Health, p. 462)

“Man’s enslavement to the most relentless masters – passion, selfishness, envy, hatred, and revenge – is conquered only by a mighty struggle. Every hour of delay makes the struggle more severe. If man is not victorious over the passions, they crush out happiness, health, and manhood.  Here Christian Science is the sovereign panacea, giving strength to the weakness of mortal mind, — strength from the immortal and omnipotent Mind, — and lifting humanity above itself into purer desires, even into spiritual power and good-will to man.” (Science and Health, p. 407)

“Are we clearing the gardens of thought by uprooting the noxious weeks of passion, malice, envy, and strife?” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 343)

There is that idea of weeding our “garden” of thoughts again.  Most everyone understands the need to keep weeds out of a beloved garden.  It is an on-going project, not something to do once and forget about it!  Daily prayer is where we tend to our thoughts in our communion with our Father-Mother God. One way to push out the weeds of envy is with an “attitude of gratitude”!

A grateful heart a garden is,
Where there is always room
For every lovely, Godlike grace
To come to perfect bloom.
— (Hymn 3, Christian Science Hymnal)


Already touched upon in the Biblical Background section, greed is similar to covetousness.  In First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume One: The Ten Commandments, I wrote:

“Covetousness is often the motive behind greed, which is a quality of being extremely grasping – taking, eating, or buying way too much, certainly beyond what anyone would normally need.  Greed, of course, is not a quality a Christian would want to express.”

We need to learn to trust God to give us what we need. Mary Baker Eddy offers this guidance:

God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment. What a glorious inheritance is given to us through the understanding of omnipresent Love! More we cannot ask: more we do not want: more we cannot have. This sweet assurance is the “Peace, be still” to all human fears, to suffering of every sort. (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 307)

 “At this immortal hour, all human hate, pride, greed, lust should bow and declare Christ’s power, and the reign of Truth and Life divine should make man’s being pure and blest.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 257)


Lust is an intense desire, or longing, for physical pleasure.  Our senses demand to be entertained!  We can become addicted to things we lust for, leaving us little time to think of anything else. Certainly this is something we need to master.  Mary Baker Eddy writes:

“The Scriptures say: ‘Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.’ That which we desire and for which we ask, it is not always best for us to receive.  In this case infinite Love will not grant the request.” (Science and Health, p. 10)

 “Lust, dishonesty, sin, disable the student; they preclude the practice or efficient teaching of Christian Science, the truth of man’s being.” (First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, p. 4)

 “The lust of the flesh and the pride of physical life must be quenched in the divine essence.” (Unity of Good, p. 39)

 “HELL. Mortal belief; error; lust.”  (Science and Health, p. 588)

 The Apostle Paul gave this advice:

 “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)

 As we “walk with Spirit,” which is God, we are protected from the myriad suggestions that would lead us into temptation of lustful practices.  But it takes moment-by-moment alertness and a desire to be obedient.


 There is nothing wrong with having desires, but they need to be right and worthy.  Our desires may not start off that way; they may be based on materialism.  It’s humanly natural.  But Christian Science teaches, as does Jesus, that we need a spiritual approach by turning to God first.

“Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with out desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.” (Science and Health, p. 1)

 “Jesus declared that to look with desire on forbidden objects was to break a moral precept.  He laid great stress on the action of the human mind, unseen to the senses.” (Science and Health, p. 234)

 Sometimes the answer to our prayers is that we do not get what we desire.  We must humbly accept this.  Perhaps it is a matter of not being the right time. We must trust God.

“That which we desire and for which we ask, it is not always best for us to receive.  In this case infinite Love will not grant the request.” (Science and Health, p. 10)

 “Let the slave of wrong desire learn the lessons of Christian Science, and he will get the better of that desire, and ascend a degree in the scale of health, happiness, and existence.” (Science and Health, p. 407)

What, then, would be the right kind of desires to yearn for and pray for?  Mrs. Eddy tells us in the first chapter of Science and Health, “Prayer”:

“What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds.” (Science and Health, p. 4)

 Elsewhere she writes:

“Prayer begets an awakened desire to be and do good.” (No and Yes, p. 39)

 “Soul is the infinite source of bliss: only high and holy joy can satisfy immortal cravings.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 287)

 “Happiness consists in being and in doing good; only what God gives, and what we give ourselves and others through His tenure, confers happiness.”  (Message of 1902, p. 17)

 In her autobiography, Mary Baker Eddy shares how her early desires guided her life:

“From my very childhood I was impelled, by a hunger and thirst after divine things, — a desire for something higher and better than matter, and apart from it, — to seek diligently for the knowledge of God as the one great and ever-present relief from human woe. The first spontaneous motion of Truth and Love, acting through Christian Science on my roused consciousness, banished at once and forever the fundamental error of faith in things material; for this trust is the unseen sin, the unknown foe, — the heart’s untamed desire which breaketh the divine commandments. As says St. James: “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 31)


Prayer to our Father-Mother God will help guide us in our journey on earth,and prove that we do not need to covet whatever our brothers and sisters may seem to have that we think should be ours as well.  In one sense, it is right to claim our mutual heritage as God’s children, each having all the grace and blessings that God bestows on His creation. As God’s image and likeness, we reflect all that God is and has, seen and felt in the spiritual ideas within consciousness.  There we find peace.

“The sublime summary of an honest life satisfies the mind craving a higher good, and bathes it in the cool waters of peace on earth.”  (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 227

*   *   *
Copyright Vicki Jones Cole 2018

An essay on Teaching Children the Tenth Commandment will be coming in the future.  In the meantime, you can read the daily lessons on the Tenth Commandment for young people found in the book “First Lessons in Christian Science” on this site.  Go to the Ten Commandments page and scroll down to the Tenth Commandment section.  To learn more about this book, see the About page.

The Tenth Commandment – For Young Children  (from the book)

The books on the “First Lessons in Christian Science,” found on this site, provide daily
lessons for teaching children and teens at home or in Sunday School:

Volume One:  The Ten Commandments
Volume Two:  The Beatitudes
Volume Three:  The Lord’s Prayer

For a list of all essays and articles on this site, go to the Essays page.
Below is a sample of some of the essays useful for teaching young people.

Teaching Children about the Golden Rule
Introducing Children to the Concept of God 
Teaching Children about Angels
The 23rd Psalm – Commentaries
Teaching the Ten Commandments
Introduction to Teaching the Beatitudes to Children

Questions and Answers on Christian Science
About this blog and the Welcome page

The First Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective – [includes Christian Science is Monotheistic; Basic Definition of ‘Other Gods’; Who is ‘Me’?; ‘Other gods’ and How They Affect Us; Disobedience to the First Commandment; Obeying the First Commandment]

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Teaching Children the Eighth Commandment

“Thou shalt not steal.”

While the Eighth Commandment seems very direct and clear – “Thou shalt not steal” – the definition of stealing appears to be a rather murky one for some. Young people who would be shocked at hearing that an acquaintance robbed a bank, or took money from a friend’s wallet, may see no problem with shoplifting from a store, cheating on an important test (because everyone else is doing it), or manipulating someone into destructive behavior, such as drinking or drugs, that goes against their better instincts.

This is one commandment that depends a great deal upon the example set for children by their family members or adults they observe on a regular basis. If a parent uses manipulation to get what he or she wants from a spouse, or a sibling bullies and uses other violent tactics to successfully intimidate others, then a young child may grow up to use these same methods.

You may be wondering what that kind of behavior has to do with “stealing.” If you have come directly to this page, you might wish to read the full essay on the Eighth Commandment for background. Each of the Ten Commandments addresses more than the literal, obvious meaning, and the Eighth Commandment is no different. If we think of stealing as merely the attempt to rob another of some object, it is time to take a deeper look at its meaning, if you wish to live the spirit of this rule of God.

Most children are taught not to steal as one of their very early lessons. This usually consists in learning that it is wrong to take things that do not belong to them without permission. And if this lesson takes hold that is a major victory! But as they mature, children could benefit from learning what other actions might be considered stealing, so they can protect themselves and others from breaking the spirit of the Eighth Commandment.

In addition to some of the points made in the earlier essay on this Commandment, here are a few ideas suitable for discussion with individual children or Sunday School classes.


1. Simply ask your young pupils if it is right to take a toy from someone without permission. They will probably repeat what their parents have taught them. Ask them why it would be wrong. If they do not understand, do some role-playing. Give them the  words to use to ask to use or borrow something belonging to a classmate or sibling. Then, ask them how they would feel if someone took something special that belonged to them and refused to return it, and so on. Remind them of the Golden Rule, if they have already learned about it.

2. Explain to them that God has a big rule: “Thou shalt not steal.” It is found in Exodus 20 and is one of the Ten Commandments. Ask if they might know why this would be an important rule.

3. Explain difference between stealing on purpose and accidentally taking something thoughtlessly. Remind them that if they get permission from the rightful owner first, then that is not stealing.

4. Discuss ways that young children often try to get things that they want: by nagging, or sweet talking insincerely, bullying, trickery, or taking something secretly and hoping no one will notice. All of these actions are unloving, and break the Eighth Commandment.

5. Turn their thought to the positive side of this Commandment – to WHY we do not need to steal. Show them Genesis 1:31 in the Bible: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” God has only good planned for each of His children and no one is left out. We may have different things and different opportunities come our way. We can turn to God in prayer if we have a need, and learn to trust Him with our lives.

6. No one can steal from us what God gives. He gives spiritual ideas and qualities, and no one can take those from us. Ask if anyone can steal our “sense of humor,” for example. Why not? Does a playmate seem to be having a lot of fun playing with a certain toy that belongs to him? Would we be happy if we secretly stole that toy and took it home? No. Why not? Would we steal the playmate’s happiness if we took the toy, or does that quality come from God? Yes, we might make them sad, and we do not want to do that, but if they knew how to turn to God, they would see that God gives all spiritual good, and it cannot be taken from them. We can know that for ourselves, too, so that we would not be tempted to steal from another.


Older children and Sunday School pupils should be able to understand the ideas given in the essay on The Eighth Commandment. But there are certain situations that may be of greater temptation for those entering their teen years that should be discussed. For example:

Shoplifting and “borrowing” clothes: While most kids understand that shoplifting is wrong, there is a feeling that taking items from a store or company without paying does no harm to individuals, and therefore is not so bad. But they need to understand how this ends up costing them and consumers more money because of the losses to the store and the costs of insurance, which are passed along to shoppers. Therefore, it is stealing from the wallets of innocent, hard-working people. Also, there is a habit, not just with teens, of buying fancy clothes (often Prom or Homecoming dresses), wearing them once for the big occasion, and then returning them to the store. Explain that this, too, is stealing, because the dress then becomes “used,” and everyone loses money on it. Bring in the Golden Rule. Perhaps one day they will be shop owners, and would they want others stealing from them in this way? These store losses can affect the profits which are needed to raise families, and so on. The honest thing to do is to buy only what you can afford, and take responsibility for what is purchased, returning only what is truly defective. Explain that shoplifting is not a harmless game. It can land them in jail.

Cheating on Tests: Yes, this is stealing. By cheating on tests, students steal from others, their teachers, their school, and themselves. They deprive everyone of an honest assessment of whether or not the subject has been successfully taught and successfully learned. In some situations, students can be robbed of their rightful spot near the top of the class, by others who have cheated. Competition for college admissions does create a lot of stress for high school students, and there is a great temptation for them to do whatever is necessary to make good grades, but if they do not earn those high grades through honest methods, then they have certainly broken the Eighth Commandment. There are spiritual consequences to this that may not concern them now, but for those who love God and want see the benefits of obeying Him, there is a sense of peace for those who have honestly earned their grades.

Addictive behavior: Indulging in destructive habits such as smoking, drinking, drugs, or overeating is a form of stealing. These appetites can rob both mind and body of good health and proper development – spiritually and physically. Though Christian Science teaches that matter is only a false concept of the substance of Spirit, as long as we are human we do need to respect our bodies by taking common-sense care of them. Why give the poor body more than it can handle naturally? It breaks the Eighth Commandment when we steal this good health from ourselves, or encourage our friends to indulge with us.

Stealing friends: At a certain age, young people get very possessive about their friends. There can be a lot of manipulation among groups of friends to get best buddies or to exclude others from the clique. While friends cannot really be stolen, in the usual sense of that word, attempts to alienate the affections of one friend for another could be considered a form of stealing. True friendship and love is not personally possessive, and inspires confidence that friends can congregate and relate naturally, with no need to control others. Learning this discipline while young can prevent much heartache when romantic companionship become the coveted prize.

Stealing good reputations: It is also a form of stealing when one attempts to rob others of their good reputation by spreading gossip and falsehoods for whatever reason. This kind of character assassination is strongly rebuked in the Bible. And young people should know that in the adult world, slander is against the law, and there are serious consequences for spreading falsehoods about another. As always, the Golden Rule should be considered when tempted to control others through gossip or intimidation. This will be discussed again under the Ninth Commandment: “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” But malicious gossip can also be seen as a form of stealing.

Those are just a few of the areas of possible discussion with your children or Sunday School class. When other Commandments are broken, there may not be a social consequence. But many forms of stealing are against the law, and young people need to develop the discipline and instincts that will protect them from making destructive choices in the face of temptation.

For additional ideas for daily lessons, see the page for The Ten Commandments.  This will take you to the pages for First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume 1: The Ten Commandments.  Scroll down through the links to the lessons on the Eighth Commandment.

Copyright 2009 Vicki Jones Cole

The Eighth Commandment – For Young Children (from the book)

The Eighth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective
[Background material useful for teaching older Sunday School students.  Sections include:  Biblical Background; Jesus and the Eighth Commandment; Christian Science and the Eighth Commandment]

Questions and Answers on Christian Science
About this blog and book plus a Welcome
Teaching Children the Ten Commandments

A good foundation for teaching all these lessons to your children or Sunday School pupils is to start with the essay on Teaching Children the First Commandment.  It contains ideas for helping children understand its deeper meaning and how to live “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” in daily life. See also the First Commandment daily lessons in Volume One: The Ten Commandments.

For a list of daily lessons useful for teaching children at home or in Sunday School,
from the book “First Lessons in Christian Science” go to the following:

Volume One:  The Ten Commandments
Volume Two:  The Beatitudes
Volume Three:  The Lord’s Prayer

For a list of all the articles and essays on this site go to the Essays page.

Here are a few essays useful for teaching children of all ages:

Introducing Children to the Concept of God
Teaching Children about the Golden Rule
Teaching Children about Angels
Introduction to Teaching the Beatitudes to Children
The Beatitudes for Children
Teaching Children the 23rd Psalm
Becoming a Living Monument to the Ten Commandments
What Mary Baker Eddy Writes about Teaching Children

The Ninth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective
[Until the essay on Teaching Children the Ninth Commandment is finished, you can find background material useful for teaching older Sunday School students in this essay.  Sections include:  Biblical Background; The Ninth Commandment and the New Testament; Christian Science and the Ninth Commandment]

The Tenth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective
[Until essay on Teaching Children the Tenth Commandment is finished, you can find background material useful for teaching older Sunday School students in this essay.  Sections include:  Biblical Background; Jesus and the New Testament; Christian Science and the Tenth Commandment; Envy; Greed; Lust; Wrong Desires]

Return to Top of Page


The Ninth Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective

“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”


There is something naturally appealing about truth.  Haven’t there been times when you hear a person speak forthrightly and you think, “It’s so refreshing to hear the truth”?  While not everyone would agree that the unvarnished truth is pleasant to hear all the time, those moments of plain speaking, free from “spin,” exaggeration, or withholding, can positively touch our hearts and minds.

Why is that?  Speaking from a spiritual perspective, it is because God is Truth and expressions of truth, sincerely given, connect us to our true selves and to divinity.  Truth is our natural habitat, the light that surrounds us, leads us, and helps us to see spiritual reality clearly.

Each of the Ten Commandments reveal, to some extent, an aspect of God’s nature.  The Ninth Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour,” is a first lesson given the Hebrews towards the goal of learning that God is Truth, His Word is all-powerful Truth, and His children, made in His image and likeness, walk in the light of truth, and are pure, upright, free from evil or errors.

The Bible shows in its evolving history of man’s progressive understanding of God that obedience to the Commandments offered protection and guidance until the Hebrews were taught by Jesus in New Testament times, to live love. The same is true for us today: humble obedience to the Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount is a saving grace, especially when done with love and selflessness.


Bible scholars tell us that the Ninth Commandment was about perjury rather than being a prohibition against lying in general.  Perjury, as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “the voluntary violation of an oath or vow either by swearing to what is untrue or by omission to do what has been promised under oath; false swearing.”

Today, many courtrooms around the world require witnesses in trials to swear an oath.  In American courtrooms, the oath is basically: “Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”  If it is discovered that a witness has committed perjury, he or she may be punished with a fine or jail time.

This crime of bearing false witness under oath was considered to be so serious to the early Israelites that anyone caught lying about another under judgment would be given the same punishment normally given to one actually guilty of that particular crime.

“. . . and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother; so shalt thou put the evil away from you.”  (Deuteronomy 19:18-19)

In the story of Daniel in the lion’s den (see Daniel, chapter 6), we learn that after Daniel made it safely out of the lion’s den through his innocence and God’s protection, the false accusers were subsequently thrown into the lion’s den, along with their wives and children!   A lesson to ponder:  how often do our loved ones suffer for the consequences brought about by lying and false accusations by family members.

“Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.”  (Exodus 23:1)

While the interpretation of the Ninth Commandment in its original language may have indicated it referred only to false witness under oath, the above citation gives a slight indication that any kind of false reporting is wrong.  It also seems clear through the rest of the Old Testament that God condemned lying – especially gossip and slander.  Obviously, the fear of punishment did not stop God’s people from falsehoods, or there would not have been so many warnings against it.  Here are some of the main ones:

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.”  (Proverbs 19:5)

“Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.”  (Psalm 31:18)

“For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie.”  (Isaiah 63:8)

“Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off.”  (Psalm 101:5)

“A poor man is better than a liar.”  (Proverbs 19:22)

“He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool”  (Proverb 10:18)

So often we read in the Bible about certain vices or sins being “abominations” to God or hated by Him, as we learn from these verses:

“Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight.” (Proverbs 12:22)

“These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:  a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief.  A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”  (Proverbs 6:16-19)

God’s command against gossip and slander is made very clear in Leviticus: “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people.”  (Lev. 19:1)

By New Testament times, the Hebrews had so loaded down God’s laws with unmerciful punishment among themselves that practicing them became burdensome.  But Jesus inaugurated a new reign of love and mercy.

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”  (John 1:17)


One difference between the Old Testament and New Testament is that fear and warnings of dreadful consequences were used in the early days to keep the children of Israel in line, while the New Testament writings show that Jesus, his disciples, and the Apostle Paul exhorted their followers to treat others through the motives of love, truth, and mercy.

A thorough reading of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) shows what Jesus thought of hypocritical behavior – in our thoughts, speech, and action.  Hypocrisy is a form of lying and being a false witness – but with ourselves as a living lie.

Jesus spoke only indirectly of the Ninth Commandment’s warning about what we swear to, or say. But in doing so he stressed an even broader meaning: that we should limit what we say to such absolute truth that our words would be examples of refreshing brevity:

“Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, “Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:  But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.  Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.  But let your communication be, Yea, Yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”  (Matt. 5:33-37)

Jesus, of course, was the target of false accusers, many of whom knew the holy scriptures thoroughly.  Yet their fear and jealousy of this Christly son of God blinded them to their duty to uphold God’s commandment.  It is possible they must have endured mental or physical suffering after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

In the letters of Paul to the early Christians, he urged everyone to keep to the faith by living and speaking the truth only:

“Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.” (Colossians 3:9)

“Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4:25)

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”  (Ephesians 4:29)

“Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10)

“Charity . . . rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.”  (I Cor. 13:6)


[NOTE:  For those unfamiliar with the religion of Christian Science (which is NOT the same
as Scientology!) you can read about it on the Questions and Answers page on this site.]

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, was raised in an early Nineteenth Century New England family that was devoted to the Bible.  She grew up with a deep love of its teachings and naturally adhered to its moral lessons.  She loved Jesus and did her best to follow his example.

However, good morals and simple honesty did not protect her from a life of ill-health and frailness.  It took the experience of a profound spiritual healing of a serious injury, after turning to her beloved Bible when at the seeming threshold of death, to open her eyes to a revelation that would change the course of her life and bring health and happiness to others.

Mary Baker Eddy spent the next few years searching the Bible for answers and for the confirmation of what she had seen in that burst of light and healing.  She describes it this way in her textbook Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

“When apparently near the confines of mortal existence, standing already within the shadow of the death-valley, I learned these truths in divine Science: that all real being is in God, the divine Mind, and that Life, Truth, and Love are all-powerful and ever-present; that the opposite of Truth, — called, error, sin, sickness, disease, death, — is the false testimony of false material sense, of mind in matter; that this false sense evolves, in belief, a subjective state of mortal mind which this same so-called mind names matter, thereby shutting out the true sense of Spirit.”  (Science and Health, p. 108)

Lies of the “Serpent”

Notice in that last statement that Mrs. Eddy refers to error, sin, sickness, disease, and death as “false testimony of false material sense.”  This gives an indication of a spiritual or metaphysical interpretation of what the original Ninth Commandment was pointing the way for mankind to eventually understand; that not only is it important to be honest, but to recognize that we are falling into a conspiracy of lies, by believing in the false testimony of the material senses.  We must learn protect ourselves from the suffering this “false witnessing” seems to cause.

Whether we notice it or not, we are challenged every day by false accusations. Why is that?  We can go back to the Bible which offered the first explanation. It all started with the serpent in the allegory of Adam and Eve.  Mary Baker Eddy describes it as follows:

“In the Greek devil is named serpent – liar – the god of this world; and St. Paul defines this world’s god as dishonesty, craftiness, handling the word of God deceitfully.  The original text defines devil as accuser, calumniator; therefore, according to Holy Writ these qualities are objectionable and ought not to proceed from the individual, the pulpit, or the press.”  (Message for 1901, p. 16)

Mary Baker Eddy had a term for these devilish accusations that bombard us:  aggressive mental suggestion.  Her followers are urged to defend themselves daily against these false suggestions, by watching our thought and rejecting any “lies” that come to us.  Sometimes the lies are from others, sometimes the lies appear as our own thought.  Because their source is not from God, the infinite divine Mind, who is Love only, the lies can be rejected. Sticking to God’s truth can bring healing.

Living the Christ, Truth

The teachings of Christian Science help us learn how to understand God, not merely to believe in Him, by praying to know Him better, and studying the Bible with a new perception of the spiritual meaning behind familiar stories and passages.  In Christian Science, one of the names for God is Truth.  The infinite manifestation of Truth is the Christ, the impersonal image of God, which comes to mankind to bless and heal, which was embodied by Christ Jesus.  But Truth is also the “Comforter” which Jesus promised would come to us when he was no longer physically present with us.  Mary Baker Eddy discovered this Truth and devoted the rest of her life in demonstrating and teaching this revelation so that we can all heal sickness and sin as Jesus did.

Students of Christian Science understand the need to obey the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount in their daily lives.  This helps to purify consciousness and provide the ability to be alert to falsehoods, both in our dealings with others, as well as the lies of evil and errors that oppose God’s goodness and supremacy.  Mrs. Eddy writes:

“Thou shalt not bear false witness; that is, thou shalt not utter a lie, either mentally or audibly, nor cause it to be thought.  Obedience to these commandments is indispensable to health, happiness, and length of days.”  (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 67)

Plato said: “What thou seest, that thou beest,” a truth that aligns with the spiritual view of the Ninth Commandment, in that we do not want to judge falsely anyone, which by doing so we show forth what we ourselves are.  For example, in Christian Science practice, if we see a sick man, and do not mentally reject the picture, we are believing that sickness is a God-made reality and therefore might make us vulnerable to the same belief, as well.  But both situations are false beliefs ready to be destroyed by truth.  The work of denying this error and affirming God’s truth, has proven to be an effective healer since Mary Baker Eddy’s discovery in 1866.  We have learned not to “bear false witness” for others as well as ourselves.  It can be, of course, a struggle to do this constantly, and there are certainly times we do not ignore wrong-doing or an illness that does not get healed immediately, but our goal is to try to see our fellow man as God’s child, His image and likeness as stated in Genesis as much as possible.  This may take consecrated prayer and much study of the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy to educate ourselves and grow spiritually, but the results are worth it.

“The Christianly scientific man reflects the divine law, thus becoming a law unto himself.  He does violence to no man.  Neither is he a false accuser.”  (Science and Health, p. 458)

“This Science requires man to be honest, just, pure; to love his neighbor as himself, and to love God supremely.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 367)

Telling the truth is so important that Mrs. Eddy put a rule in her Church Manual stipulating that in the offices of the Publishing Society where her periodicals were prepared and sold: “No idle gossip, no slander, no mischief-making, no evil speaking shall be allowed.”  (Church Manual, p. 81)

In addition, Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “But all people can and should be just, merciful; they should never envy, slander, hate, or try to injure, but always should try to bless their fellow-mortals.”  (Miscellaneous Writings, pg 32).  It is no surprise, then, that when she established her newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, she chose as its motto, “To injure no man, but to bless all mankind.”

Judging Others

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught:  Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

When judging others, our human opinion may not necessarily be the truth, so we must be willing to withhold our opinion when not needed.  Of course, there are times we are in a position to have to wisely use our discernment in judging others, such as in a court of law, or when hiring someone for a job, but speaking harshly to another in the name of “I’m just being honest!” is no excuse for hurting another.  A sympathetic or diplomatic approach may be the most loving thing to do.

Mary Baker Eddy writes of judgment:  “No mortal is infallible, — hence the Scripture, ‘Judge no man.’” (Miscellany, p. 364)

“He who judges others should know well whereof he speaks.  Where the motive to do right exists, and the majority of one’s acts are right, we should avoid referring to past mistakes.  The greatest sin that one can commit against himself is to wrong one of God’s ‘little ones.’” (Miscellaneous Writings p. 130)

“Students are advised by the author to be charitable and kind, not only towards differing forms of religion and medicine, but to those who hold these differing opinions.  Let us be faithful in pointing the way through Christ, as we understand it, but let us also be careful always to ‘judge righteous judgment,’ and never to condemn rashly.”  (Science and Health, p. 444)

Spiritual Sense versus Physical Senses

How do we know what is spiritually true about anyone, if we are witness to problems with our eyes and ears, etc. and it all seems so real?  We learn in Christian Science – and indeed through the examples of Jesus and other Bible healers – that we do not gather facts solely from the physical senses when it comes to metaphysical healing.  We must learn to elevate thought to see with the spiritual senses. We all have access to a spiritual sense, because we reflect Spirit, God, as His image and likeness.  In the book of Job, he describes it this way:

“But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” (Job 32:8)  Mary Baker Eddy defines it:  “Spiritual sense is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God.” (Science and Health, p. 209)

As we practice demonstrating the truths of Christian Science, in addition to living the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, thus purifying consciousness, we cultivate spiritual sense until it becomes natural to turn to it when needing to accurately judge a situation.

Mary Baker Eddy writes about spiritual sense versus the physical senses:

“The five material senses testify to truth and error as united in a mind both good and evil.  Their false evidence will finally yield to Truth, — to the recognition of Spirit and of the spiritual creation.”  (Science and Health, p. 287)

“What is termed material sense can report only a mortal temporary sense of things, whereas spiritual sense can bear witness only to Truth.  To material sense, the unreal is the real until this sense is corrected by Christian Science.”  (Science and Health, p. 298)

“Science reverses the false testimony of the physical senses, and by this reversal mortals arrive at the fundamental facts of being.” (Science and Health, p. 120)

“The use of a lie is that it unwittingly confirms Truth, when handled by Christian Science, which reverses false testimony and gains a knowledge of God from opposite facts, or phenomena.” (Unity of Good, p. 36)

“The opposite of Truth, — called error, sin, sickness, disease, death, — is the false testimony of false material sense, of mind in matter.”  (Science and Health p. 108)


The textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, offers a treasure trove of ideas about the perfection of God, man, and the universe that enable us to rise above the false witnessing of the “serpent” – the evil and the erroneous testimony of the physical senses — that seeks to punish God’s children rather than bless His creation, and seeks to mesmerize them into believing its lies and acting upon them.  This is the essence of the Ninth Commandment.  Simply, we do not disobey God by telling or believing in lies.

We could say that Truth is reality as God knows it.  So, to “get real,” let God alone bear witness to you and your neighbor in Truth and Love.

As St. Paul exhorted: “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.”  (Eph. 4:25)

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  (III John 1:4)

* * * * * * *
Copyright 2018 Vicki Jones Cole

An essay on Teaching Children the Ninth Commandment will be coming in the future.  In the meantime, these essays are based on the lessons found in the book “First Lessons in Christian Science.”  To see the lessons for children on the Ninth Commandment go to the Ten Commandments page and scroll down to the Ninth Commandment list. See the About page for information about the book.

The Ninth Commandment – For Young Children  (from the book)

Next;  The Tenth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective – [Includes Biblical Background; Jesus and the New Testament; Christian Science and the Tenth Commandment; Envy; Greed; Lust; Wrong Desires]

“How I Told My Kids the Truth about Santa without Robbing Them of the Joy of Christmas”

Questions and Answers on Christian Science
About this blog and book and a Welcome!

For a list of daily lessons from the book “First Lessons in Christian Science,” found on this site, that are useful in teaching children at home or in Sunday School, visit these pages:

Volume One:  The Ten Commandments
Volume Two:  The Beatitudes
Volume Three:  The Lord’s Prayer

For a list of all the articles and essays on this site, visit the Essays page.

Return to Top of Page.

How Does One Become a Student of Christian Science?


All you need to do is study the textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, and strive daily to put into practice what you are learning. You do not need to join a church or group, although these are available in many areas for those who find such support useful. Churches provide an opportunity to meet other students, and to use what you are learning about Christian Science in a supportive atmosphere.  The church (known as The Mother Church, the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts) does not have a monopoly on the textbook, and those who do not want to get involved with organized religion may feel free to study Science and Health and call themselves students of Christian Science.  But the local churches are a good place to hear testimonies of healing and make friends with other Christian Scientists. Most have Sunday School available for children up to age 20.

The textbook itself is a teacher and guide, and, in conjunction with God’s daily revelations to you through individual prayer, should be sufficient for your spiritual education. But, if you would like to have personal instruction, there are experienced Christian Science teachers available. Their names are listed in The Christian Science Journal, which is available from The Christian Science Publishing Society in Boston online or in Christian Science Reading Rooms. If you have a Reading Room in your area, you might find it a great source for Christian Science and Bible literature.

The Christian Science Publishing Society also publishes a study guide, The Quarterly Bible Lessons.  These are daily lessons focused on a theme for the week. On Sundays, the lesson is read at CS church services all over the world. Mrs. Eddy had designated the Bible and Science and Health as the official “Pastor” for CS churches.  This means that you will not hear a personal sermon delivered from the podium, but will be listening to the Word of God straight from the books, with no comments from the Readers. Unlike other worldwide religions, however, the same lesson will be read at all Christian Science churches and societies, so no matter where you travel or move, the message will be consistent.  It sends a powerful prayer out into the world each week.

Also helpful are public practitioners of Christian Science. Most are authorized by The Mother Church in Boston and are listed in The Christian Science Journal.  You can also find other healers online.  Most of these dedicated people are in the full-time ministry of the practice, but some are part-time or beginners. Call them for prayerful assistance if you would like to try spiritual healing for your problems. Most would be happy to work with you and get you started in your study of Christian Science.

A great one-stop source online is (JSH Online).  There you will find lists of Churches and Societies, Practitioners, Teachers, CS Nurses and more.  Also JSH (referring to Journal, Sentinel, and Herald — the official publications of the Christian Science Publishing Society) provides access to thousands of articles and testimonies of healing, published since the late 1800’s, plus recent podcasts and webblogs.  Much of the content is free to the public; but to reach more you can subscribe.  You can also learn more about Christian Science and the Church at

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For Links to more websites relating to Christian science, see the Q&A and Links page.

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For a list of essays and articles on this site – many useful for teaching Sunday School
or children at home – see the Essays page.

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How Can Christianity Also Be a Science?


Christianity, as demonstrated by Christ Jesus, is based upon God’s laws. These divine laws can be studied, put into practice, and demonstrated as Truth on a consistent basis by those spiritually prepared and working from an understanding of God, rather than from belief alone, or blind faith.

Christian Science is a Science because it is a body of knowledge and facts that can be studied and analyzed. It explains and demonstrates the nature and essence of all Being and the relationship between God and His infinite ideas. It sets aside all human theory, opinion, beliefs, religious creeds and dogmas, and accepts as true only those facts, rules, and laws which can be understood both spiritually and scientifically, and proven true by demonstration.

Christian Science is also a Science because it teaches the scientific classification of all true ideas, and the identification of these ideas with the one Divine Mind. Only those effects that can be traced back to the one true Cause, God, are classified as “real.”  Christian Science also teaches the classification of all false concepts, and the identification of these errors with their source: the carnal, mortal mind and its beliefs of the five physical senses. Those effects that cannot be traced back to the one true Cause, God, are classified as “unreal.”

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in her textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

“Christian Science differs from material science, but not on that account is it less scientific. On the contrary, Christian Science is pre-eminently scientific, being based on Truth, the Principle of all science.” (S&H 123)

“In Christian Science mere opinion is valueless. Proof is essential to a due estimate of this subject. Sneers at the application of the word Science to Christianity cannot prevent that from being scientific which is based on divine Principle, demonstrated according to a divine given rule, and subjected to proof. The facts are so absolute and numerous in support of Christian Science, that misrepresentation and denunciation cannot overthrow it. Paul alludes to ‘doubtful disputations.’ The hour has struck when proof and demonstration, instead of opinion and dogma, are summoned to the support of Christianity, ‘making wise the simple.'”  (S&H 341)

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What are the Essential Points of Christian Science?


The best way to learn Christian Science is through careful study of its textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, and the immediate or steadfast mental application of what you learn. Christian Science is an infinite subject!  We never stop learning.  But here are just a few of the essential points of Christian Science in the words of its Discoverer, Mary Baker Eddy:

“This is Christian Science: that mortal mind makes sick, and immortal Mind makes well; that mortal mind makes sinners, while immortal Mind makes saints; that a state of health is but a state of consciousness made manifest on the body, and vice versa; that while one person feels wickedly and acts wickedly, another knows that if he can change this evil sense and  consciousness to a good sense, or conscious goodness, the fruits of goodness will follow, and he has reformed the sinner.”  (Miscellaneous Writings, 219)

“The superiority of spiritual power over sensuous is the central point of Christian Science.”  (S&H 454)

“This conviction, that there is no real pleasure in sin, is one of the most important points in the theology of Christian Science.” (S&H 404) 

“Two essential points of Christian Science are, that neither Life nor man dies, and that God is not the author of sickness.” (S&H 349) 

“The chief stones in the temple of Christian Science are to be found in the following postulates: that Life is God, good, and not evil; that Soul is sinless, not to be found in the body; that Spirit is not, and cannot be, materialized; that Life is not subject to death; that the spiritual real man has no birth, no material life, and no death.” (S&H 288) 

“This is the doctrine of Christian Science: that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; that joy cannot be turned into sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil; that matter can never produce mind nor life result in death. The perfect man — governed by God, his perfect Principle — is sinless and eternal.” (S&H 304)

“The heart that beats mostly for self is seldom alight with love. To live so as to keep human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal, is to individualize infinite power; and this is Christian Science.” (Miscellany 160)

A study of the textbook Science and Health will explain the meaning behind those statements, some of which may sound radical to the first-time reader.  When it is realized that man, the “image and likeness” of God, is actually a spiritual idea of the divine Mind, and not the mortal that is testified to by the physical senses, they come to make sense and offer a path out of the the wholly material view of the universe.

Science and Health can be read or listened to for free at JSH Online.
It is also available on Amazon and in book stores.

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Previous:  How Does Christian Science Define God?

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How does Christian Science define God?


In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,  one brief answer to this question “What is God?” is as follows:

“God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love.” (S&H 465)

Mary Baker Eddy goes on to explain that those terms are “synonymous,” and writes:

“They refer to one absolute God. They are also intended to express the nature, essence,
and wholeness of Deity. The attributes of God are justice, mercy, wisdom, goodness,
and so on.” (S&H 465)

Elsewhere, in the Glossary of Science and Health, she defines God this way:

God. The great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence.

The entire textbook explores the “nature, essence, and wholeness” of God, which is the
foundation for the system of Christian Science. Christian Scientists study and pray daily
to get a better understanding of our heavenly Father-Mother.


To learn more about the teachings of Christian Science and to access the textbook
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, visit JSH Online. 
Science and Health is also available on Amazon and other book stores.

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What is the Mission or Purpose of Christian Science?


Those who have studied the life of Mary Baker Eddy know that she desperately sought relief from years of physical suffering. When she found that God’s laws are available to heal sickness, she devoted her life to proving these laws, and teaching others how to demonstrate them, so that the whole world would benefit from her discovery. She recognized that Christian Science does more than heal sickness; it heals the root cause of physical suffering: the false belief that God’s child is a sinful mortal, rather than the spiritual “image and likeness” of God. She writes:

“It is not alone the mission of Christian Science to heal the sick, but to destroy sin in mortal thought. This work well done will elevate and purify the race. It cannot fail to do this if we devote our best energies to the work.” (Miscellaneous Writings 4)

“Healing physical sickness is the smallest part of Christian Science. It is only the bugle-call to thought and action, in the higher range of infinite goodness. The emphatic purpose of Christian Science is the healing of sin; and this task, sometimes, may be harder than the cure of disease; because, while mortals love to sin, they do not love to be sick.” (Rudimental Divine Science 2)

In addition to healing sin and physical problems, Christian Science enables us to improve our lives in other ways. For example, many students have proven this statement by Mrs. Eddy:

“The term Science, properly understood, refers only to the laws of God and to His
government of the universe, inclusive of man. From this it follows that business men
and cultured scholars have found that Christian Science enhances their endurance
and mental powers, enlarges their perception of character, gives them acuteness and
comprehensiveness and an ability to exceed their ordinary capacity. The human mind,
imbued with this spiritual understanding, becomes more elastic, is capable of greater
endurance, escapes somewhat from itself, and requires less repose. A knowledge of
the Science of being develops the latent abilities and possibilities of man. It extends
the atmosphere of thought, giving mortals access to broader and higher realms. It
raises the thinker into his native air of insight and perspicacity.” (S&H 128)

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What is Christian Science?

Learn more about Mary Baker Eddy at the Mary Baker Eddy Library