“Fret Not Thyself”
by William P. Mackenzie
The writer of the thirty-seventh Psalm couldn’t possibly have known what great numbers of people would find comfort in his assurance of God’s goodness. Millions of students of the Bible have turned to this Psalm for renewal of their faith in God. It has been set to music, and generations have listened to the comforting words, “O rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him, and He shall give thee thy heart’s desires.”
It’s worthwhile to consider this admonition of the Psalmist, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers.” The question is, Why should anyone allow his happiness to be taken from him, because he is either envious of evildoers or irritated by their temporary success? To fret is “to eat into, corrode; to wear away, to chafe, to irritate.” The mental state of fretting is a state of inward irritation, or resentment. It is harmful to the individual, disagreeable and hurtful to others.
Experience shows that those who believe that evil is power are wrong. When crime is met courageously, it loses its boldness. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Often, after a community is victorious over wrongdoing, the moral glow seems to subside, and wrong habits of conversation are indulged. People talk too much about the errors of others. They discuss faults and peccadillos.
In the opinion of the Psalmist, what irks the righteous is the prosperity of the wicked; that he appears to be successful in bringing his wicked devices to pass. Many are tempted to envy the round of extravagance; the person who revels in eating and drinking, in mansion-building, and ostentatious acquiring of things. All the real wisdom of human life lies in the teaching of Jesus when he said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal,” and, “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Those who are learning the lessons of Truth have ceased to fret, and are finding new values in living. They are discovering what comfort there is in well-ordered simplicity, and the true value there is in what might be called common things, which everyone may share; for example, consideration and courtesy in the family, friendliness and good will with neighbors. Pride makes people not only thoughtless, but sometimes cruel. It doesn’t lift up the bruised reed. Pride is full of scorning and cruelty; whereas, love has common sense and kindness. Thank God, the world is full of decent people whose wisdom is to be kind.
We are carrying on a movement of spiritual power. Prior to the discovery of Christian Science, religious leaders propagated denominational beliefs. There was too much fretfulness and criticism in preaching, intended to show how foolish were believers in doctrines that differed from those of the particular sect. Christianity was to a great extent lost in controversy.
We, who are engaged in this world-blessing effort of Christian Science, should not fret ourselves because those who are doing good work occasionally slip. The admonition in the twelfth chapter of Romans, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep,” is memorable. Friendliness and aid will in the end wipe away the tears, and make another admonition suitable which says, “Rejoice evermore.”
It is one of the signs of the times that many have found themselves able, like the traveler spoken of in the Allegory (Mis. Writ.), to leave behind the needless baggage of self-righteousness, which seems to involve despising of others, and enter into a new joy of fellowship with the high purposes which Christian Science is expected to fulfill. With simplified thinking comes kindness, good will, fairness, and mercy, and love for mankind. Then the worker knows that he can trustfully and successfully “let patience have her perfect work.”