I learned to love an enemy

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

I was once the target of incorrect accusations, and the situation ended up in the courts. I had to be interviewed by several officials of the court, and each of their findings was devastatingly negative toward me. I had a hard time reading their reports, since they seemed to concur so blatantly with my accuser, though I knew I was innocent.

My lawyer, who understood my innocence, advised me that in her long experience with these sorts of cases, the court would most certainly rule against me.

It was tempting to feel angry – tempting to allow self-justification to take over. It was tempting to want to lash out at my accuser.

But I've learned over the years that giving in to self-pity, anger, or self-justification never solves the problem. In fact, these qualities of thought often make things much worse.

Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, wrote an article, "Love Your Enemies," which says: "Hate no one; for hatred is a plague-spot that spreads its virus and kills at last.... Never return evil for evil" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 12).

During this time, I read and re-read this article, finally realizing that this passage was talking about the harm to me that would occur by indulging in vindictive thoughts about the person who had wronged me. She said that hatred – and in this case it would be me doing the hating – "kills at last." I was surprised to see that when we're wronged, it harms us to react negatively to the perpetrator.

As I continued through this court experience, I thought a lot about Mrs. Eddy's statements to love, not hate, and recalled the moment in the Gospels in which Jesus – who certainly had a right to be angered at being wrongly arrested, accused, scorned, and crucified – healed the ear cut off in anger by the Apostle Peter (see John 18:10, Luke 22:50).

Jesus taught that we shouldn't return hatred for hatred, but that we should love our enemies. In fact, he made this point clearly: "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" (Matt. 5:44, 45).

This was what I wanted – to act as God had created me. The command from Jesus was to love, not hate. So that's what I tried to do. I reversed my view of my accuser, and saw that he, too, was God's child just as I was and was only trying to do what seemed right to him. That opened the way for me to, in my own mind, love him – or at least love the fact that he was trying to do what seemed right.

The others involved in the court action deserved the same treatment, and I tried my best to view everyone in this new loving understanding I had gained.

When the court situation was finally resolved, I was not found guilty. But what was so surprising to me was that the court decree that followed the trial made a specific point not to find my accuser guilty, either. We were both exonerated.

I loved the fact that this situation, when lifted into the light of God, resulted in both parties being declared innocent. That's the way God made all His children, and I was grateful to have this fact made clear to all.

Keep back thy servant also
from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion
over me: then shall I be upright,
and I shall be innocent from the
great transgression. Let the
words of my mouth, and the
meditation of my heart, be
acceptable in thy sight, O Lord,
my strength,
and my redeemer.
Psalms 19:13, 14

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