ONE evening recently, after a day alternating between instances of minor mischief and his muttering that ``I just don't like myself,'' my six-year-old son responded reluctantly to my request for help by getting something that I needed for his baby sister, whom I was changing upstairs. When he returned, I thanked him, showing him how much he had helped. His face brightened. He bounded off to play--no more muttering, no more mis chief.
The thought of helping someone else had given him a boost right out of the negative thoughts he had been entertaining about himself.
Of course, children aren't alone in finding themselves mired occasionally in self-condemning thoughts. Ever stop to think where such thoughts come from?
There is a wonderful Bible healing which shows that evil thoughts about us are not, ultimately, our own thoughts and that they can be cast out--or, better still, refused entry. There was a man living in a place called Gadara, who apparently had a history of extreme self-hate. In the Bible's words, ``And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.''
When Jesus sailed to the shore of Gadara, this man confronted him. Jesus said, ``Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.'' And the man was healed. Later, with deep tenderness, Jesus told him, ``Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.''1
God Himself is good--only good. And God's thoughts passing to man are characterized only by goodness, purity, and health. Man is the expression of the good that is God. So our true thoughts--those derived from God--have no element of sin or self-condemnation.
When Jesus said ``Come out...thou unclean spirit,'' wasn't he recognizing that the evil, self-destructive thoughts afflicting this man were an imposition? He knew they were not part of this man's natural thinking, so he cast them out.
There was no condemnation of a person in what Jesus did. In all his healing work, evil was destroyed with the truth of man's spiritual perfection as God's child. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says: ``In divine Science, man is the true image of God. The divine nature was best expressed in Christ Jesus, who threw upon mortals the truer reflection of God and lifted their lives higher than their poor thought-models would allow,--thoughts which presented man as fallen, sick, sinning, and dying.''2
The divine Mind, God, includes perfect spiritual thought models for us to use as patterns. We can see what these are through regular, inspired study of the Bible and of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mrs. Eddy. These books point to the reality of God and man in perfect spiritual being--and to the demand for pure, loving, spiritually based thoughts that enable us progressively to demonstrate that reality in our lives.
We invite guests into our thinking, like visitors to our home. If we want a safe, orderly home, we don't invite raucous guests. We can, in the same way, refuse entry to destructive thoughts about ourselves and others. This is much more than simply a positive attitude of the human mind. It's a necessary yielding of ungodlike thinking to the one divine Mind and its pure thoughts. We shouldn't ignore evil, but we also shouldn't allow it to grow in our thoughts and lives.
The habit of responding to God's supply of lovely thoughts about us is realistic in the deepest sense. It doesn't preclude self-examination but it does shut out nasty guests and promotes our spiritual growth. Then we're able to play a stronger, more healing role in the world around us.
1Mark 5:5, 8, 19. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 259. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God. I John 4:1