Monday, May 14, 2007

How to Forgive -- revisited

President Faust's conference address magnified this topic into bold letters (James E. Faust, “The Healing Power of Forgiveness,” Ensign, May 2007, 67–69).

If we can find forgiveness in our hearts for those who have caused us hurt and injury, we will rise to a higher level of self-esteem and well-being.
We revisited the issue in President Kimball's teachings last Sunday in Elder's quorum.

This passage of scripture stands out --

Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.

I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. (Doctrine and Covenants 64:9-10).

President Kimball's counsel --

To be in the right we must forgive, and we must do so without regard to whether or not our antagonist repents, or how sincere is his transformation, or whether or not he asks our forgiveness.

...and further --

Many people, when brought to a reconciliation with others, say that they forgive, but they continue to hold malice, continue to suspect the other party, continue to disbelieve the other’s sincerity. This is sin, for when a reconciliation has been effected and when repentance is claimed, each should forgive and forget, build immediately the fences which have been breached, and restore the former compatibility.

The early disciples evidently expressed words of forgiveness, and on the surface made the required adjustment, but “forgave not one another in their hearts.” This was not a forgiveness, but savored of hypocrisy and deceit and subterfuge. As implied in Christ’s model prayer, it must be a heart action and a purging of one’s mind [see Matthew 6:12; see also verses 14–15]. Forgiveness means forgetfulness.

The phrase in their hearts has deep meaning. It must be a purging of feelings and thoughts and bitternesses. Mere words avail nothing.

"For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.” (Moro. 7:8.)

Henry Ward Beecher expressed the thought this way: “I can forgive but I cannot forget is another way of saying I cannot forgive.”

I may add that unless a person forgives his brother his trespasses with all his heart he is unfit to partake of the sacrament. (Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, Chapter 9: “ Forgiving Others with All Our Hearts,”.(2006),89–101)

Sobering thoughts to ponder.

On personal reflection, I see that I am not very good at living these principles. How hard it is to be honest about forgiving those who have hurt or offended. I cannot see how it is done.

Very easy to forgive and forget trivialities. They really don't matter anyway. The big things are the ones that seem unreasonable or impossible to forgive.

How can I ever forgive those complicit in causing my brother's death? I want to kill them myself, with my bare hands. How am I supposed to forget what they did?

Yet, as Section 64, if I forgive them not, I am guilty of greater sin than they.

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