The Armor of Forgiveness

In church activities, perhaps more than in any other line of work, forgiveness becomes a paramount lesson to be studied and rehearsed. Should there be an appearance of inharmony, in well-nigh every instance it can be traced not so much to evil thought as to the member's overzealousness to do or say just the right thing. Christian Science has come to the world laden with a mighty tenure of truth. Every church worker, consciously or unconsciously, realizes this. It is so apparent to some that it amounts to a sense of personal responsibility, which at times brims over until thoughts and conclusions are given out that a moment of sober reflection would forbid. In times of need there are those in every church fold who can and do help with their Christly thought, — persons, perhaps, who are impelled forward by their great sense of gratitude for deliverance from past errors. One member of this sort, voicing conservative action, may come to the business meeting fully clad in the armor of forgiveness and find therein a work most fruitful. Somehow that person is able to put forward a thought which carries with it a mighty truth, and so apparent is his native tolerance for the thoughts and rights of others, that he needs but to state his position once, and there comes a momentous calm, even in the midst of many perplexing differences.

When our habit of thought is that of forgiveness, our conquest is won even before an offending word is spoken. "Forewarned is forearmed." There is no affront that sincere forgiveness cannot meet. Why? Because the real man— God's child — never offers an affront. Knowing this with a certainty that is instant in season and out of season, one's spirit of forgiveness, constantly thought and spoken, stills the turbulent waters with the Christly blessing, "Peace, be still." Who better than our revered Leader could have written these words found in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 224) : "We should go forth into life with the smallest expectations, but with the largest patience ; with a keen relish for and appreciation of everything beautiful, great, and good, but with a temper so genial that the friction of the world shall not wear upon our sensibilities ; . . . with a charity broad enough to cover the whole world's evil, and sweet enough to neutralize what is bitter in it."

In our unthinking earnestness we may sometimes forget that Christian Science in its early history was not nurtured in a bed of ease. Ingratitude came to her who kept at her post through every trial. Unforgiving helpers hindered, but Truth triumphed in the face of every obstacle. Shall we profit by our Leader's untiring loyalty to God? or shall we forget ourselves in the uncertain clamor for personal ends? Words of careful import heal and comfort, but unkind words and conclusions are void from the moment they are spoken. No better way has yet been found to praise a beneficent God "who forgiveth all thine iniquities ; who healeth all thy diseases," than by an affacement of self so real that human bickerings are stilled, quickly reduced to their native nothingness. Doubtless many a war could have been averted had the spirit of forgiveness been made a national issue. As with nations, so with the individual ; we can and should "let patience [and its handmaid, forgiveness] have her perfect work." Pope tells us : —

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December 5, 1914

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