Forgiveness and Health

This week’s Christian Science Bible Lesson is on the subject of “Everlasting Punishment”.  It talks about how sin punishes the evildoer.  The old theological concept of heaven and hell is giving way to the understanding that heaven and hell are not locations, but are experienced here and now based on how we think and act.

Stanford University was doing a study called The Stanford Forgiveness Project on the effect of forgiveness on health.  The studies show that people who let go of anger and hurt feelings are experiencing better health and longevity.  Isn’t that an example of experiencing heaven here and now?

Anger, resentment, and revenge lead us to poor health, which is one of the reasons Jesus advised against them.  When Peter asked him, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered and said, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”  (NIV, Matt 18:22) Why do you think Jesus advises us of this?  Because our health and happiness depend on it, which is our salvation right here and now!   The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount were given to us for our well-being, so that we could be properly governed by divine Mind, – the source of all health, happiness, and goodness.

Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, wrote in her bestselling book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “A moral question may hinder the recovery of the sick.  Lurking error, lust, envy, revenge, malice, or hate will perpetuate or even create the belief in disease.” (p. 419)

She wisely advises, “Christian Science commands man to master the propensities, — to hold hatred in abeyance with kindness, to conquer lust with chastity, revenge with charity, and to overcome deceit with honesty. Choke these errors in their early stages, if you would not cherish an army of conspirators against health, happiness, and success.” (p. 405)

Dr. Frederic Luskin, of Stanford University, states in regard to his studies, “What is intriguing about this research is that even people who are not depressed or particularly anxious can obtain the improved emotional and psychological functioning that comes from learning to forgive. This suggests that forgiveness may enable people who are functioning adequately to feel even better. While the research is limited, a picture is emerging that forgiveness may be important not just as a religious practice but as a component of a comprehensive vision of health.”  Also, “This study demonstrated that normal college students could become significantly less angry and hurt, feel more hopeful, spiritually content and self-efficacious about managing their emotions and also become more forgiving after a six-hour training session.” (Stanford Medicine, “The Art and Science of Forgiveness”, Vol. 16, No. 4).

I think we are ready, as mankind, to realize that “medicine is Mind” (Miscellaneous Writings, Eddy, p. 268), and to relinquish anything that isn’t good from our disposition, for the betterment of all humanity.  “…Forgiveness may be, as the religious traditions have been claiming all along, a rich path to greater peace and understanding that also has both psychosocial and physiological value.” (“The Art and Science of Forgiveness”, Luskin, 1999)

Mrs. Eddy says, “Here Christian Science is the sovereign panacea, giving strength to the weakness of mortal mind, — strength from the immortal and omnipotent Mind, — and lifting humanity above itself into purer desires, even into spiritual power and good-will to man.” (Science and Health, Eddy, p. 407)

This certainly sounds like our salvation here and now, being governed by divine Mind who is the source of mankind’s health and happiness

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