The question of enemies

Originally published in the April 5, 1910 issue of The Christian Science Monitor

No man or woman who is successful in righteous and useful living wholly escapes enmity. The evil in human nature all too easily shapes itself into envy and resentment toward whatever is good enough to destroy evil or successful in defeating evil; and every earnest mortal who would rid his heart of the undesirable must watch his attitude toward those who seem to be his enemies and must be sure, in turn, that no enmity against others lodges with him. All ethical teaching holds that charity toward all is the ideal for human behavior, but not all theories, religious or otherwise, show mortals how to secure and preserve such charity in the midst of ingratitude and persecution. To maintain a serene and kindly feeling toward those who are too often swayed by evil forces and to be patient with those who are all too ready to introduce conflict into the simplest problems, requires a knowledge and practice of Christlikeness. Too many have marred their right efforts and robbed themselves of well-earned success by responding to enmity with resentment; a trap into which the enmity itself would tempt any mortal that it may embitter and undo him. Human weapons, even the popular one of “righteous indignation,” are not equal to this battle.

To know the truth, which impersonalizes error and reveals every evil to be a condition and not a person, puts you where the kindness in your heart is unshaken even while you see the evil at its worst. Not only this, but such understanding uncovers for you the evil elements as you never could see them while you believed evil to be people or people to be evil. When you learn that dealing with evil means just dealing with evil thinking, and that your own thinking must be one with good in order to preserve you from evil, you no longer dare to meet injury with resentment, or misrepresentation with bitterness; for you see that a response in your own heart is all that the evil wants in order to make you one with it for a time, and you know that your safety lies in maintaining unbroken good will toward persons even while you discern the evil that is trying to use them. Jesus did not ask deliverance from any person; he prayed broadly—“Deliver us from evil”—knowing that he must not fear it, that all men are God's children and that all must some time manifest His fatherhood in being rid of evil. And Christian Science makes so clear the impersonality of evil that you and yours and all mankind may cease to fear it either in yourselves or in others.

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