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Never the victim of resentment

From the July 13, 1992 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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A close friend of mine once lost her job because of resentment. It wasn't anything she had felt toward her co-workers. She was happy to have her job, and as a new employee she had advanced quickly. Yet some of her fellow employees resisted her accomplishments, and their resentment had acted like a corrosive poison in the atmosphere of the workplace. When she was pushed out, she felt victimized and desperate. She needed to prove for herself that she was still worthy, that she couldn't be unjustly deprived of what is genuinely good by the thoughts or actions of others, despite what had happened. How did she gain her freedom? Through prayer and striving to hold only Christly love in her own heart. It wasn't easy; but there was steady spiritual progress, and her life moved forward in a new career.

Resentment certainly seems like a poison. It would try to corrode any semblance of goodwill. It would work to turn neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother, church member against church member, co-worker against co-worker, even nation against nation. But this poison always has an antidote that can be found in prayer and in our expression of the pure, unselfish, intelligent, and forgiving action of divine Love. Resentment is never healed by the determined effort of human will to pass judgment on "who is right and who isn't" but only by our yielding to the will of God, who is always right.

Christ Jesus taught the total unacceptability of self-righteousness and resentment. And his own example demonstrated the sanctuary we can discover in the divine righteousness of God. For Jesus' followers, purely selfless love and a heart freed of all forms or shades of resentment must be the hallmark of discipleship. In the New Testament, many lessons from the Sermon on the Mount point to this Christian standard. For example, Jesus speaks of being blessed "when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." He speaks of going the extra mile when you are compelled to go only one; of turning the other cheek; of the danger of anyone being "angry with his brother without a cause"; and of the necessity of being "reconciled to thy brother" if it is remembered "that thy brother hath aught against thee." Perhaps all of this is best summed up in Jesus' timeless counsel "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven." (See Matt., chap. 5).

In Jesus' own experience, even when he faced wrongful arrest and knew the crucifixion awaited him, he did not submit to serving up resentment or being subjugated by it. He simply wouldn't allow any of it, for divine Love alone held the only authority, substance, presence, and reality for Jesus. When the soldiers came to apprehend Jesus, his disciple Peter thought to defend his Master with what he assumed were the most effective weapons at hand. Peter, in fact, drew his sword and seriously wounded one of the soldiers. But, again, Jesus simply wouldn't allow it. He immediately healed the soldier's wound.

In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy describes Jesus' response to Peter in this way: "Peter would have smitten the enemies of his Master, but Jesus forbade him, thus rebuking resentment or animal courage. He said: 'Put up thy sword.'"

Still, we know that Jesus was arrested, and he suffered the crucifixion. Yet the complete freedom in his thought from any personal feelings of resentment or hatred must have had much to do with what brought him through the crucifixion to the resurrection—to the greatest demonstration of spiritual power and liberty the world has ever witnessed. From the cross, Jesus had prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." He would not express resentment; he could not be its victim. Only God's will was right; only God's love would triumph. Jesus stayed on the side of infinite, all-powerful divine Love. Then there was the resurrection; and ascension.

The nature of resentment causes it finally to turn on itself. Resentment is ultimately self-defeating, self-destructive. And the rightness, or saving righteousness, of God is the only place we can, in all humility, find genuine healing if for any reason we have either felt tempted to resent another or have suffered resentment's sting.

The way to establish peace, to drop the mental burden, and to bring real comfort to our own or others' wounds comes through accepting and expressing the all-embracing Love that is also infinite Mind, or God. As we acknowledge, comprehend, and hold faithfully in prayer to the singular rightness of God alone, the one all-knowing Mind, we are able to realize the constant operation of divine law. We witness the practical adjustments that the law of God always brings to human experience through the redeeming action of Christ, Truth. And we begin to see that actually everyone's true selfhood manifests the divine Mind rather than opinionated human will or excited ego.

From this standpoint our prayer enables us to prove our own part in expressing this one Mind, God; and it is in Christ—being "hid with Christ in God"—that we are safe from jealousy, envy, rivalry, resentment. Regardless of what another thinks or says or does, our prayers—and our lives—can effectively demonstrate that, in truth, there are no victims when the love of Christ prevails in our hearts.

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