THE Bible points out in the book of Proverbs, ``He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls'' (25:28).
Many people lose their temper at times, pounding their desks, shouting and swearing. Others lose control in more fundamental ways and end up throwing things or physically assaulting others. Children, wives, and husbands are the frequent victims of this behavior. The media are regularly filled with reports of domestic violence and murder.
Is there any way to quell the increasing incidence of violence and temper? Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this paper, points to one. In her Message to The Mother Church for 1901, she said: ``To my sense the Sermon on the Mount, read each Sunday without comment and obeyed throughout the week, would be enough for Christian practice'' (p. 11). Virtually from beginning to end, Christ Jesus' sermon illustrates the importance of self-mastery, of self-control. And he reveals the naturalness of this to his listeners by illustrating the nature of life that flows from God, divine Love. Pure, unequivocal, unadulterated, universal Love is the only acceptable motive-power of man, he teaches.
When we recognize that God is Love, we realize that we can worship Him only by allowing His love to rule in our hearts. This love is more than simple kindness or tenderness. We are talking about divine discipline, the governing control and power of God. The recognition that God alone governs man pulls the plug on passion and anger. The Christian doesn't allow others simply to walk all over him--but neither does he walk over others. With spiritual strength he demonstrates the omnipotent power and authority of God, which rule absolutely and bring all into obedience to God's law. This demonstration of divine power requires calmness, patience, and strength. And through Christ, we obtain God's help to exercise these qualities under every circumstance.
Yes, at times we may feel frustrated beyond all measure. We may find our way blocked unfairly by others; we may be betrayed; friends or others may prove unfaithful. But if even at such moments we can pause and recognize that we are still in the presence of God, and that His law governs all, we will find a deep, unshakable peace within. And with this peace comes a clear sense of dominion. We'll perceive a way to right wrongs, to correct mistakes, and to forgive.
If we instead lose our temper or give in to rage, things only get worse. Sometimes terribly worse. And the only way to fulfill our responsibility for straightening out the resulting mess is to retrace our steps and untangle our errors with God's help.
When anger, jealousy, and resentment move in, we need to recognize that they are enemies. They are highly destructive and self-destructive. They are never justified. Circumstances may argue vigorously otherwise, but passion and temper simply pour gasoline onto a fire that is already burning too hot. It may take all the self-control you have, but seeking God's help to silence passion and still outbursts of temper will save you from making things worse. Then when the heat of the moment subsides, you can earnestly seek God's guidance in permanently resolving the conflict. God's strength and wisdom are always available to us. As we allow His will to be done, anger dissolves. We feel His help and see the evidence of His law at work. God's law rights wrongs, restores harmony, and heals.
At the close of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explained, ``Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock'' (Matthew 7:24, 25).
Wouldn't we all prefer having a life founded upon this sturdy rock instead of being like a city whose walls have been broken down? Jesus' teachings point out the way. Christian Science shows us the practicality and spiritual power of his teachings and the possibility of demonstrating them effectively today.