RETALIATION is often the first impulse in the thought of one who has been wronged in some way--the desire to even the score. This primitive sense of justice predates the Mosaic law, and we can see it still operating today on international as well as individual levels. Between inner-city groups a racial taunt will evoke an angry response that leads to street fighting. A young boy, when asked why he punched his brother, will reply, ``Because he hit me.'' Tit for tat--this sense of justice starts a chain reaction of getting equal. It escalates a warring sense, not a peaceful one.
Christ Jesus, whose life was a shining example of not keeping account of wrongs, taught us a better way to handle them, a way that wipes them out rather than keeps a record of them. He said, ``Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.''1 And Paul tells us that ``charity...thinketh no evil.''2 In The New English Bible these words are translated, ``Love keeps no score of wrongs.''
How can we discount the wrongs that we think have been done to us? We can understand the illusive nature of those wrongs. In accord with the Bible, Christian Science teaches that the Supreme Being, God, is good. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded this Science, defines good as ``God; Spirit; omnipotence; omniscience; omnipresence; omniaction.''3 If we think of omniaction as good and good as omniaction, we begin to see that all genuine action--that is, God-impelled action--must be good alone, despite the universal conviction that evil is as potent as good. In a very profound sense, then, nothing other than good can act. In divine reality there is no contentious sense, no quarrelsome nature, no aggressive character, no lust for war. Obviously humanity has a long way to go in order to prove this, and we can't simply ignore evil. Even so, as we make the allness of good, of God, the basis of our thoughts, we'll help to diminish conflict. Keeping score of wrongs is actually like trying to keep score of nothing. It's to hold on to the stubborn misconception that we're victimized or imposed-upon mortal beings, separate from our creator, separate from the love and satisfaction that He confers and that are natural to us as His spiritual offspring.
When we are tempted to chalk up a wrong we suppose someone has done us, or if we feel hurt about a wrong we feel has been unfairly chalked up against us in the past, the need is to glimpse through prayer something of true existence, of our God-created, God-governed identity, which can suffer no wrong, be aware of no wrong, and keep no record of wrong. As the spiritual expression of divine Love, man knows and expresses good alone. His existence bears witness to God's existence.
Jesus' understanding of his true selfhood as the Son of God enabled him to face with love and forgiveness the wrongs done him by the enmity that challenged his lifework. Had he kept score of them and reacted to them with a desire for retaliation, he could have been so diverted from the true purpose of his mission that it would not have succeeded. How wonderful was his dominion in the garden of Gethsemane when one of his disciples drew his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest, who had come to take Jesus prisoner. Jesus did not regard this as a reprisal merited by one of his enemies. His thought remained so far above any desire for revenge that he was instantly able to restore the ear.4
To let a list of wrongs accumulate in our thinking and to let our relationships with others be based on the remembrance of those wrongs are harmful to our moral and spiritual well-being. Mrs. Eddy advises, ``It is wise to be willing to wait on God, and to be wiser than serpents; to hate no man, to love one's enemies, and to square accounts with each passing hour.''5
1Matthew 5:38, 39. 2I Corinthians 13:4, 5. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 587. 4See Luke 22:47-51. 5Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 17. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Luke 6:37