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On not fighting fire with fire

We've all heard the saying ''You can't fight fire with fire.'' Yet sometimes we tend to do just that. Can you imagine, though, trying to put out a fire of anger in your home or business by adding more anger? We need to bring something of opposite character, such as forgiveness or gentleness, to put out such a fire.

But the human mind tends to react in kind - that is, to fight fire with fire. If someone treats you poorly, you may feel inclined to treat him poorly. If a rude driver cuts in front of you on the highway, you may feel inclined to return , in some manner, this rudeness. Our Master, Christ Jesus, was well acquainted with this tendency in human thinking. Jesus frequently and specifically rebuked the attitude that tries to fight unkindness with unkindness.

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On one occasion the people of a certain village in Samaria did not welcome Jesus to their community. Two of his disciples were very indignant at this and said, ''Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them . . . ?'' But Jesus rebuked such a notion. He said: ''Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.'' n1

n1 Luke 9:54-56,

Jesus showed that it's important to respond to God, divine Love, and not strike back at those treating us unfairly. Jesus lived what he taught: ''Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.'' n2

n2 Matthew 5:44, 45.

The Master teaches us to meet hatred with its opposite. We are to fight antagonism with love, cursing with blessing, and persecution with prayer.

Is this a battle we are destined to lose? Is Jesus teaching us to be doormats for evil, to fight a raging fire of animosity with a cup of forgiveness and love?

Consider the experience of one Christian Scientist. For several years almost every time she visited her husband's family there was a minor explosion of inharmony. She was always kind and courteous to her in-laws, but invariably one of them would confront her with anger and criticism.

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There was a temptation to fight fire with fire, especially on the part of her husband, who felt particularly hurt by this injustice. But through the study of Christian Science this couple had learned that hatred is not caused or sustained by God. Christian Science had taught them that it's natural to express kindness, patience, and forgiveness, because the true, spiritual nature of everyone is God's very image.

Since God is divine Love, what He creates is loving. In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy n3 gives the spiritual sense of the Biblical term ''creator.'' Part of her definition reads, ''God, who made all that was made and could not create an atom or an element the opposite of Himself.'' n4

n3 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.

n4 Science and Health, p. 583.

As the Christian Scientist prayer fully persisted in identifying her in-laws as fellow children of divine Love, the verbal attacks started to wane. Soon she became a loved family member, and today her in-laws particularly enjoy her visits.

Hatred is not natural to any of God's children. We are created by divine Love to express love consistently. God's love expressed by us counteracts and extinguishes animosity. DAILY BIBLE VERSE 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. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go whith hime twain. . . . If ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? . . . Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:38-41, 46, 48

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