WHETHER we're thinking of nations dealing with other nations or people with colleagues, we all too often see vengeance taking precedence over forgiveness and reconciliation. Such attitudes, however, only narrow and impoverish our lives. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, points out in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``Falsehood, envy, hypocrisy, malice, hate, revenge, and so forth, steal away the treasures of Truth."
We overcome our grievances by learning to govern our thinking through embracing the God-given treasures of Truth. These treasures are such eternal qualities as forgiveness, peace, harmony, love, and they begin to govern our thought and lives when we turn to the laws of God that Christ Jesus taught. The Bible in Matthew's Gospel records that Jesus told his followers--including us today: ``Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love yo ur enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Obeying this command in our everyday experience teaches us how to forgive others, as well as ourselves, for bad and wrong actions. And prayer also shows us how to correct and make amends for our mistakes.
I have always found it difficult to forgive myself. I feel that I know better, so I should act better. When I finally remember to turn to and follow God's laws, I find that the treasures of Truth--love, trust, integrity, gratitude--replace the hatred, distrust, dishonesty, or apathy I've allowed to impoverish my ex- perience. Through prayer I've learned to do a better job of forgiving myself, and also to do better in obeying God's laws so that I have fewer occasions to forgive myself.
The spiritual qualities that man reflects from his creator are what I draw upon when experience turns hard and cold. They are the means by which divine Love, God, saves me from the poison of hatred by dissolving hatred within my own thought. It isn't always smooth sailing, but striving to live spiritual qualities in my everyday life pushes me toward a clearer sense of God's love for man. Forgiving our enemies is not easy, either. It takes a great deal of humility and love for mankind, as well as trust in
God, to want to help someone who we feel has intentionally hurt us. But we can do it. Prayer and forgiveness are fundamental to a Christian's life. Instead of seeking retribution for a harmful act, then, through prayer, we learn to pour out unfeigned forgiveness. Man is the child of God, reflecting the treasured qualities of God, good. Developing our ability to express these treasures more fully in our lives takes persistence and a deep striving to do and be good. We must allow these God-given qualities to
be of primary importance to us in our thought and action for them to benefit us and others. Forgiving others on the basis of our growing understanding of God's love is natural and brings healing.
Our prayers are the avenue by which we advance spiritually. When this progress occurs we know that we've gained a little more understanding of God and man. And when we follow God's guidance and direction--when we implement within our lives the treasures of Truth--we are giving up, or sacrificing, the bad for the good. This results in a life aligned with God and His goodness, in actions obedient to God's direction. Our spiritual treas-ures are immortal, and they bring healing.