"I can't understand why John doesn't . . . ." "Jane would be better off if she . . . ." "If only my son would . . . ." At one time or another you've probably heard comments on the actions of others that started in these or similar ways.
What do such comments indicate? For one thing, that the person making them thinks he or she knows best what someone else should be doing.
Even the parents of Jesus Christ questioned his behavior. When he was twelve, he went with them to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of the Passover. After they had started home, they realized Jesus wasn't with their group, and they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. When they found him, he was in deep discussion with learned men in the temple. And when they questioned him, Jesus replied, "Wist [knew] ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49).
Isn't it possible that John, Jane, and "my son" are also about some business of the Father's that we know nothing about? Maybe our concern should be to keep our thought open to what God is revealing to us regarding our own affairs. When we are tempted to question someone else's actions, and to gossip about or criticize that person, it might be more helpful for all concerned if we were to know that he or she is governed by God.
That doesn't mean that we should condone illegal activity or the breaking of the Ten Commandments. But it requires us to see that, because God created us in His own image (see Genesis 1:26), we are not really sinning mortals. Over the years the Christian Science magazines have included testimonials from parents who saw a complete change in the behavior of a son or daughter when those parents held steadfastly in prayer to the fact of the child's true, spiritual identity, reflective of the nature of God. These parents refused to accept drug abuse or other immoral behavior as part of that perfect nature.
Most often our judgment of others concerns less drastic activity than their use of illegal drugs. But mere criticism is never helpful. Unless criticism is constructive-lovingly and prayerfully delivered directly to the individual involved, with a sincere desire for that individual's welfare-it isn't helpful. I have found it important to stop and think prayerfully, before judging another's behavior. That individual may be struggling with a problem of which I'm not aware, and may be trying diligently to solve it in the best way that comes to him or her.
When tempted to judge or criticize, I remind myself that the best judgment is God's and ask myself what He knows. When my thought is filled with the awareness that right where I am seeing a troubled person God is seeing His perfect child-who expresses Him only in good ways-I'm mindful of God's creation. It's in this way that I will enjoy a more peaceful view of our world and be more helpful to my neighbor.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science and founded this newspaper, wrote something helpful to anyone trying to mind his or her business: "Seek the Anglo-Saxon term for God, and you will find it to be good; then define good as God, and you will find that good is omnipotence, has all power; it fills all space, being omnipresent; hence, there is neither place nor power left for evil. Divest your thought, then, of the mortal and material view which contradicts the ever-presence and all-power of good; take in only the immortal facts which include these, and where will you see or feel evil, or find its existence necessary either to the origin or ultimate of good?" (Miscellaneous Writings, pp. 13-14)
Here's an example. At one time I was frequently disturbed by quarreling neighbors. And I found that, by turning to God and endeavoring to keep my thought centered on the fact that "good is omnipotence, has all power," I would soon find peace restored in our neighborhood. (This was even true when the combatants were cats rather than people!)
Jesus said he was about God's business. We can mind this business, too, as we look to God for the correct view of anyone or any situation.