My husband and I had just returned home after an enjoyable evening out with friends. I checked my email and was immediately sorry that I had. There at the top of the in-box was a message from a colleague. My reaction was visceral. I felt my stomach tightening and my temperature rising.
For some reason, just about everything this guy did bugged me. After a meeting or conference call with him I’d often come home agitated. And now, it seemed these bad feelings were about to ruin what had promised to be a good weekend.
As one who is striving to follow the example of Christ Jesus, I knew that the thoughts I had been having about this individual were not Christian. Sadly, instead of abiding by the Golden Rule—which I understand to include thinking of others as we would have them think of us—I had let myself go along with the sentiment among our team that working with him was “just plain difficult.” Right then and there, I resolved to change. But where to begin?
I got quiet and prayed, beginning with an acknowledgment of the presence and power of God and His Christ. I felt the need to understand the first chapter of Genesis, which includes the statement that God made man in His own image and likeness. One of the fundamental teachings of Christian Science is that God, the only creator, is good. It is reasonable to conclude, then, that since God is good, man—made in His image—is also good.
I reasoned further that as good children of God, we could expect to be able to work with each other, not against each other, to further the goals of our employer. Accepting this premise, I continued in silent prayer.
It is reasonable to conclude that since God is good, man—made in His image—is also good.
As I listened for God’s guidance, something Jesus said to his disciples came to thought: “And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples” (John 13:34–35, Good News Translation).
Considering that Jesus would not have told his disciples to do something that wasn’t possible, I began to see that the reason he believed they could love as he loved was that he knew they were made in the image and likeness of God, who is Love.
A teaching from the Sermon on the Mount also came to thought, reminding me that it isn’t possible to truly honor God while simultaneously holding a grudge against one of His children. Jesus said: “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23–24, New International Version).
In the gentlest way, I began to feel God’s presence and power quieting this mental storm and moving my thought into a position of willingness to let my attitude be changed. Then I picked up a copy of The Christian Science Journal to continue reading where I had left off earlier in the day. The article included a reference to First John 4:16, “God is love,” and to the First Commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).
As my eyes passed over the words, this message came to me: “Have no other thoughts before Love. Literally, Elizabeth, do not entertain any thoughts before Love’s thoughts. Love always comes first.”
I was immediately humbled by this pointed answer to prayer. I realized that even before opening the email—in fact, before any encounter with my colleague—I expected the worst. But now, feeling deeply repentant for thinking so poorly of another, I sat in prayer for a long while. I asked God to forgive me and thanked Him for softening my heart. I thanked Him for this opportunity to be healed of holding unloving thoughts about this man.
It isn’t possible to truly honor God while simultaneously holding a grudge against one of His children.
Eventually, quietly and tenderly, Jesus’ words “Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11) filled my heart. I felt forgiven, washed clean of the ugly thoughts, and clothed in kindness. I went to bed with an unshakable trust in the power of God, divine Love, to maintain my team member and me in an attitude of brotherly love toward one another.
In the morning, I was able to read his email with a new perspective—one that was respectful and expectant of good. And guess what! I found there wasn’t anything about it that was upsetting. From then on, we worked together with the genuine affection that is natural to all of us as God’s own children.
Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “The First Commandment is my favorite text. It demonstrates Christian Science.… The divine Principle of the First Commandment bases the Science of being, by which man demonstrates health, holiness, and life eternal. One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ …” (p. 340).
Obeying the First Commandment—letting Love be first in our thought—we naturally respond more lovingly to one another, because the spiritual fact is that we are made in Love, by Love, and for Love.
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