Love Your Enemies
by Mary Baker Eddy
(Miscellaneous Writings, pages 8-13)
Who is thine enemy that thou shouldst love him? Is it a creature or a thing outside thine own creation?
Can you see an enemy, except you first formulate this enemy and then look upon the object of your own conception? What is it that harms you? Can height, or depth, or any other creature separate you from the Love that is omnipresent good,--that blesses infinitely one and all?
Simply count your enemy to be that which defiles, defaces, and dethrones the Christ-image that you should reflect. Whatever purifies, sanctifies, and consecrates human life, is not an enemy, however much we suffer in the process. Shakespeare writes: "Sweet are the uses of adversity." Jesus said: "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake; . . . for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
The Hebrew law with its "Thou shalt not," its demand and sentence, can only be fulfilled through the gospel's benediction. Then, "Blessed are ye," insomuch as the consciousness of good, grace, and peace, comes through affliction rightly understood, as sanctified by the purification it brings to the flesh,--to pride, self-ignorance, self-will, self-love, self-justification. Sweet, indeed, are these uses of His rod! Well is it that the Shepherd of Israel passes all His flock under His rod into His fold; thereby numbering them, and giving them refuge at last from the elements of earth.
"Love thine enemies" is identical with "Thou hast no enemies." Wherein is this conclusion relative to those who have hated thee without a cause? Simply, in that those unfortunate individuals are virtually thy best friends. Primarily and ultimately, they are doing thee good far beyond the present sense which thou canst enter-tain of good.
Whom we call friends seem to sweeten life's cup and to fill it with the nectar of the gods. We lift this cup to our lips; but it slips from our grasp, to fall in fragments before our eyes. Perchance, having tasted its tempting wine, we become intoxicated; become lethargic, dreamy objects of self-satisfaction; else, the contents of this cup of selfish human enjoyment having lost its flavor, we voluntarily set it aside as tasteless and unworthy of human aims.
And wherefore our failure longer to relish this fleeting sense, with its delicious forms of friendship, wherewith mortals become educated to gratification in personal pleasure and trained in treacherous peace? Because it is the great and only danger in the path that winds upward. A false sense of what constitutes happiness is more disastrous to human progress than all that an enemy or enmity can obtrude upon the mind or engraft upon its purposes and achievements wherewith to obstruct life's joys and enhance its sorrows.
We have no enemies. Whatever envy, hatred, revenge --the most remorseless motives that govern mortal mind --whatever these try to do, shall "work together for good to them that love God."
Because He has called His own, armed them, equipped them, and furnished them defenses impregnable. Their God will not let them be lost; and if they fall they shall rise again, stronger than before the stumble. The good cannot lose their God, their help in times of trouble. If they mistake the divine command, they will recover it, countermand their order, retrace their steps, and reinstate His orders, more assured to press on safely. The best lesson of their lives is gained by crossing swords with temptation, with fear and the besetments of evil; insomuch as they thereby have tried their strength and proven it; insomuch as they have found their strength made perfect in weakness, and their fear is self-immolated.
This destruction is a moral chemicalization, wherein old things pass away and all things become new. The worldly or material tendencies of human affections and pursuits are thus annihilated; and this is the advent of spiritualization. Heaven comes down to earth, and mortals learn at last the lesson, "I have no enemies."
Even in belief you have but one (that, not in reality), and this one enemy is yourself--your erroneous belief that you have enemies; that evil is real; that aught but good exists in Science. Soon or late, your enemy will wake from his delusion to suffer for his evil intent; to find that, though thwarted, its punishment is tenfold.
Love is the fulfilling of the law: it is grace, mercy, and justice. I used to think it sufficiently just to abide by our State statutes; that if a man should aim a ball at my heart, and I by firing first could kill him and save my own life, that this was right. I thought, also, that if I taught indigent students gratuitously, afterwards assisting them pecuniarily, and did not cease teaching the wayward ones at close of the class term, but followed them with precept upon precept; that if my instructions had healed them and shown them the sure way of salvation,--I had done my whole duty to students.
Love metes not out human justice, but divine mercy. If one's life were attacked, and one could save it only in accordance with common law, by taking another's, would one sooner give up his own? We must love our enemies in all the manifestations wherein and whereby we love our friends; must even try not to expose their faults, but to do them good whenever opportunity occurs. To mete out human justice to those who persecute and despitefully use one, is not leaving all retribution to God and returning blessing for cursing. If special opportunity for doing good to one's enemies occur not, one can include them in his general effort to benefit the race. Because I can do much general good to such as hate me, I do it with earnest, special care--since they permit me no other way, though with tears have I striven for it. When smitten on one cheek, I have turned the other: I have but two to present.
I would enjoy taking by the hand all who love me not, and saying to them, "I love you, and would not knowingly harm you." Because I thus feel, I say to others: Hate no one; for hatred is a plague-spot that spreads its virus and kills at last. If indulged, it masters us; brings suffering upon suffering to its possessor, throughout time and beyond the grave. If you have been badly wronged, forgive and forget: God will recompense this wrong, and punish, more severely than you could, him who has striven to injure you. Never return evil for evil; and, above all, do not fancy that you have been wronged when you have not been.
The present is ours; the future, big with events. Every man and woman should be to-day a law to himself, herself,--a law of loyalty to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. The means for sinning unseen and unpunished have so increased that, unless one be watchful and stead-fast in Love, one's temptations to sin are increased a hundredfold. Mortal mind at this period mutely works in the interest of both good and evil in a manner least understood; hence the need of watching, and the danger of yielding to temptation from causes that at former periods in human history were not existent. The action and effects of this so-called human mind in its silent arguments, are yet to be uncovered and summarily dealt with by divine justice. In Christian Science, the law of Love rejoices the heart; and Love is Life and Truth. Whatever manifests aught else in its effects upon mankind, demonstrably is not Love. We should measure our love for God by our love for man; and our sense of Science will be measured by our obedience to God,--fulfilling the law of Love, doing good to all; imparting, so far as we reflect them, Truth, Life, and Love to all within the radius of our atmosphere of thought.
The only justice of which I feel at present capable, is mercy and charity toward every one,--just so far as one and all permit me to exercise these sentiments toward them,--taking special care to mind my own business.
The falsehood, ingratitude, misjudgment, and sharp return of evil for good--yea, the real wrongs (if wrong can be real) which I have long endured at the hands of others--have most happily wrought out for me the law of loving mine enemies. This law I now urge upon the solemn consideration of all Christian Scientists. Jesus said, "If ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them."
by Mary Baker Eddy
(Miscellaneous Writings 356:5)
The pent-up elements of mortal mind need no terrible detonation to free them. Envy, rivalry, hate need no temporary indulgence that they be destroyed through suffering; they should be stifled from lack of air and freedom.
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Edited for BibleTexts.com by Robert Nguyen Cramer