Purpose: To accept God’s gifts of peace and joy, and understand that in doing so you actually increase His peace and joy, rather than taking them from Him. Thus, you “learn a different way of looking at a gift” (3:3).
Longer: Every hour on the hour, for five minutes (if you cannot do this, at least do the alternate).
- Think of those to whom you denied God’s peace and joy, for thus you denied them to yourself. Say to each one, “My brother, peace and joy I offer you, that I may have God’s peace and joy as mine.” By giving God’s gifts where you withheld them, you will now feel entitled to claim them as your own. Doing this preparatory step well will guarantee your success in the following step.
- Then close your eyes and say, “God’s peace and joy are mine,” and try to find those gifts deep in your mind. Let yourself experience the joy and peace that belong to you. Let God’s Voice assure you that God’s peace and joy really are yours. This appears to be another meditation aimed at making contact with the happiness God placed in you.
Alternate: On the hour.
If you cannot do the five minutes on the hour, don’t think that doing a shortened version is worthless. At least repeat, “God’s peace and joy are mine,” realizing that by doing so you invite Him to give you the happiness He wills for you.
Response to temptation: Whenever you are tempted to deny God’s gift to someone.
Be grateful to this person for providing you with another chance to receive God’s peace and joy by giving them away. Channel your gratitude into this blessing: “My brother, peace and joy I offer you, that I may have God’s peace and joy as mine.”
Today’s lesson adds to yesterday’s emphasis on peace and joy. It reiterates much of what was in that lesson, but adds the thought that we receive these gifts by giving them.
“A major learning goal this course has set is to reverse your view of giving, so you can receive” (3:1). This idea, that we receive by giving, runs all through the Course, and is given considerable importance, but this is the only place I know of that learning this lesson is specifically identified as “a major learning goal” of the Course.
We noted yesterday that peace and joy are gifts that increase by being shared. To share my peace with you increases it rather than diminishes it. This lesson makes the rather startling assertion that when I receive peace and joy from God, God’s joy grows (4:1). By accepting peace and joy as mine, I am allowing God to “complete Himself as He defines completion” (5:2). Through my experience of this, I learn what my own completion must be (5:3). Even the psalmist of the Old Testament knew something of this when he wrote:
What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. (Ps 116:12-13, KJV)
What gift can I give to God to thank Him for His blessing? I can give Him the gift of receiving His salvation and calling on His love. I take the gifts of joy and peace, and “He will thank [me] for [my] gift to Him” (5:6).
We have all experienced this in some small way, at least. We know the joy of giving. We know that when we give love, and it is received, our love is strengthened, not weakened. Shared love is a great joy. Love received is far richer than love unacknowledged. Even receiving the joy of a child over a new toy or a new pet visibly adds to the child’s joy. These are small reflections of how God’s giving works, and we are meant to be part of it. This kind of giving, the giving of things that increase by being given away, is how we create (“True giving is creation”-4:2) and how we complete ourselves.
The exercises today prepare us to receive peace and joy. The preparation consists of consciously giving away peace and joy to those to whom we have denied them in the past: our “enemies.” The people who, in our eyes, have not deserved to have peace and joy. We did not realize that in denying the gift to them, we were denying it to ourselves in equal measure. If what we give increases in us, then if we withhold it we are withholding from ourselves as well.
To truly say, and to experience, that “God’s peace and joy are mine,” we must open our hearts to share peace and joy with the world. It begins with that person to whom my heart has been closed. “My brother, peace and joy I offer you” (7:2; 9:6). If I will open my heart to allow love to flow out, it will also flow in. As I open my heart, allowing peace, joy, and love to flow out to those around me, what I am doing is “letting what cannot contain itself fulfill its aim of giving everything it has away, securing it forever for itself” (4:5). What is it that “cannot contain itself”? My Self, my own Being.
This irrepressible Giver is me.