WE each have known people we admired deeply. Their qualities of thought stand out in our memory. We love their character, the qualities of true nobility they express. Often it is their courage in expressing love and forgiveness under all circumstances that we most clearly recall.
Forgiveness illustrates love's steadfastness in so many ways. It enables us to let go of indignation or resentment and to let God restore wholeness to our lives. Forgiveness is not weakness. When it results from the higher, spiritual nature taking charge, forgiveness reveals a core of love that is spiritually based and thus cannot ever be damaged.
We read in the Bible many examples of the power of forgiveness to heal broken relationships, to restore peace and goodwill. Joseph forgiving his brothers, for example, or Esau forgiving Jacob. Still, we may wonder how far we should go with forgiveness. Peter asked Jesus: ``Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?" Jesus' reply set the standard for all of us: ``I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." Christ Jesus' advice, found in
Matthew's Gospel in the Bible, shows us what is needed today in forgiving wrongs done to us. We find forgiveness in the prayer that nurtures our deep compassion, humility, and love.
As our understanding of God's love for His creation grows, we see that forgiveness is not conditional, nor is it doled out in small portions like the repaying of a loan. Forgiveness is wholehearted, unconditional, complete, because it reflects God's love for us. A heart filled with love for God finds it natural to overflow with forgiveness and love.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, gives us wise counsel on the subject of forgiveness. In her Message to The Mother Church for 1902 she urges: ``The Christian Scientist cherishes no resentment; he knows that that would harm him more than all the malice of his foes. Brethren, even as Jesus forgave, forgive thou. I say it with joy,--no person can commit an offense against me that I cannot forgive."
In the sublime act of forgiving, we cleanse ourselves gladly of pride, hurt feelings, anger, self-justification, even thoughts of revenge. Thought then rises to its native, natural level of compassion, which characterizes the generous spirit ready to forgive and forget.
Anyone who has ever felt the shame and grief of wrongdoing, and has then been forgiven, knows ever after how powerfully forgiveness can impel one's efforts at recompense. He enters with joy into a new world where God's love both forgives and corrects. Such spiritually based forgiveness brings us home. In the words of a hymn from the Christian Science Hymnal:
In atmosphere of Love divine,
We live, and move, and breathe;
* * * * * * * * *
For God immortal Principle,
Is with us everywhere;
He holds us perfect in His love,
And we His image bear.