I started this week studying the atonement. However it soon moved over to the principle of the atonment: forgiveness. So this is some of things I learned about forgiveness.
The following is from the lds.org gospel topic page on forgiveness.
To forgive is a divine attribute. It is to pardon or excuse someone from blame for an offense or misdeed. The scriptures refer to forgiveness in two ways. The Lord commands us to repent of our sins and seek His forgiveness. He also commands us to forgive those who offend or hurt us.
Seeking Forgiveness from the Lord
Sin is a heavy burden. It brings the tenseness of guilt and the anguish of Knowing that we have acted against the will of our Father in Heaven. It brings lingering remorse as we realize that because of our actions, we may have hurt others and prevented ourselves from receiving blessings our Father has been ready to give us.
Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can receive forgiveness for our sins through sincere and complete repentance. Sinfulness brings suffering and pain, but the Lord’s forgiveness brings relief, comfort, and joy. The Lord has promised:
“Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more’ (D&C 58:42)
We can experience this miracle, whether we need to repent of serious sins or day-to-day weaknesses. Just as the Savior pleaded with people anciently, He pleads with us today:
“Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?
“Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine are of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me” (3 Nephi 9:13-14).
In addition to seeking forgiveness for our own sins, we must be willing to forgive others. The Lord said: “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” (D&C 64:9-10).
In the everyday circumstances of life, we will surely be wronged by other people—sometimes innocently and sometimes intentionally. It is easy to become bitter or angry or vengeful in such situations, but this is not the Lord’s way. The Savior counseled, “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” (Matthew 5:44). He set the perfect example of forgiveness when He was on the cross. Referring to the Roman soldiers who had crucified Him, He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
We should pray for strength to forgive those who have wronged us, and we should abandon feelings of anger, bitterness, or revenge. We should also look for the good in others rather than focusing on their faults and magnifying their weaknesses. God will be the judge of others’ harmful actions.
[Might I add here that we need to include ourselves in the Lord’s commandment to forgive all men. We are sometimes hardest on ourselves. If the Lord is willing to forgive us why do we sometimes find it hard to forgive ourselves?]
Elder David E. Sorensen, “Forgiveness Will Change Bitterness to Love,” Ensign, May 2003, 10
The Savior said, “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him,” thus commanding us to resolve our differences early on, lest the passions of the moment escalate into physical or emotional cruelty, and we fall captive to our anger.
Nowhere does this principle apply more than in our families. [E]ach of us on earth, living under the stress and strain of this telestial climate, will have reason—real or perceived—to take offense. How will we react? Will we take offense? Will we find fault? We let the passions of the moment overcome us?
President Brigham Young once compared being offended to a poisonous snakebite. He said that “there are two courses of action to follow when one is bitten by a rattlesnake. One may, in anger, fear, or vengefulness, pursue the creature and kill it. Or he may make full haste to get the venom out of his system.” He said, “If we pursue the latter course we will likely survive, but if we attempt to follow the former, we may not be around long enough to finish it.”
Now let me take a moment here to note hat we must take care in our families not to cause spiritual or emotional snakebites in the first place! Let us not hurt the ones we love most by selfish criticism! In our families, small arguments and petty criticisms, if allowed to go unchecked, can poison relationships and escalate into estrangements, even abuse and divorce. [W]e must … eliminate ridicule, do away with criticism, and remove resentment and anger. We cannot afford to let such dangerous passions ruminate—not even one day.
I would like to make it clear that forgiveness of sins should not be confused with tolerating evil. Forgiveness does not require us to accept or tolerate evil. It does not require us to ignore the wrong that we see in the world around us or in our own lives. But as we fight against sin, we must not allow hatred or anger to control our thoughts or actions.
This is not to say that forgiveness is easy. When someone has hurt us or those we care about, that pain can almost be overwhelming. It can be very difficult to forgive someone the harm they’ve done us, but when we do, we open ourselves up to a better future. No longer does someone else’s wrongdoing control our course when we forgive others, it frees us to choose how we will live our own lives. Forgiveness means that problems of the past no longer dictate our destinies, and we can focus on the future with God’s love in our hearts.
Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr., “Words of Jesus: Forgiveness,” Ensign, Feb 2003, 48
President Spencer W. Kimball observed peace and the Savior’s doctrine of forgiveness are inseparably connected: “The essence … of forgiveness is that it brings peace to the previously anxious, restless, frustrated, perhaps tormented soul.”
We must look to the Savior, not the wisdom of the world, for peace and forgiveness.
Those who wish to consider themselves as disciples of the Master must understand that we owe a great debt to our Heavenly King for the many gifts we have received from Him. This understanding unlocks the door to the gifts or repentance and our own forgiveness. The retention of these gifts depends upon our faithful forgiveness of those who have offended us. The Savior said, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt. 5:7) and, “With what judgment ye judge, e shall be judged” (Matt. 7:2).
Forgiving others, however, does not necessarily mean that we would endorse or approve of the behavior or transgression. In fact, there are many actions and attitudes that deserve clear condemnation. But even in these we must completely forgive the offender. “Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).
The Savior was very clear that, conditioned on repentance, all of our sins can be forgiven through His sacred and atoning sacrifice except for what He called “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 12:31). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught on this subject: “Jesus will save all except the sons of perdition. What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against Him.
Thus, the clear assurance of the Redeemer is that “all sins shall be forgiven” (Mark 3:28) when we repent, for the Savior’s mission was to preach repentance.
The Savior taught His disciples on two separate occasions that they were to pray for forgiveness of sins or debts to God. We are also to demonstrate the sincerity of our prayers by forgiving those who have sinned against us.
In all our forgiving and seeking forgiveness, we must recognize that, despite whatever restitution we may be capable of providing or receiving, our efforts and those of others are woefully insufficient to meet the demands of eternal justice. How, then, is true forgiveness possible? Paul, speaking to the Ephesians, wrote that it is in Christ that we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7).
The blessings that flow from the gift of forgiveness are many. Chief among them is peace. It is the Savior’s desire that we each feel His peace. He said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. …let no your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). The forgiveness we offer to others and forgiveness we receive from Jesus Christ lead us to him and along the path to eternal life.
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