When I was a kid, my father had a dispute with his brother. Offended, he stopped all contacts with his brother and forbad us to visit him too. Not until much later when my mother fell seriously ill and was on her death bed did my father finally allow his brother and his wife to come to visit us again.
In junior high, I had a dispute with my next door best friend. I stopped talking to him and alienated him in order to “punish” him. Later, a church member brought him to church. I saw him but I refused to talk to him so I could continually “punish” him. To these days, I still feel terrible for my behavior. Oh how I wish that I could find him and tell him that I am sorry!
The Lord said, “He that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.”1 I could not comprehend this verse when I was young. I couldn’t figure out why, being a victim, my sin should be greater than the perpetrator if I didn’t forgive him. How could this be fair? I simply did not get it!
As I grew older, more experienced, and have put in much thought into this scripture; I finally “got” it! It was because God loves us so much! Being offended itself is hurtful, but if we do not forgive those who offend us, we will get hurt even deeper and longer. Our loving Heavenly Father wants us to leave the justice to Him. “’I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive’, but of [us] ‘it is required to forgive all men.’”2 By so doing, we will not suffer the additional damage by hurting our own souls.
One wise sister understood this principle. She said, “When you forgive others, you are only being kind to yourself.” President Brigham Young also taught by giving the example of a person when bitten by a rattlesnake, one common reaction would be to quickly find a stick to strike the snake to death, while the right thing to do is to go to a hospital immediately to seek help to survive. 3 In other words, when we are offended (bitten by a snake), choosing forgiveness (getting a transfusion of blood serum) is far more important and urgent than seeking revenge.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to read President Spencer W. Kimball’s book The Miracle of Forgiveness when I was young. From it, I learned that “forgiveness has no exceptions.”4 I also learned that “with God’s power we can forgive everyone, even ourselves”.5The Miracle of Forgiveness
Christ is our ultimate example. During His mortal ministry, He constantly expounded this gospel principle by both words and deeds. Even when He was on the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”6 I testify that God loves us so much that He sent His beloved son to atone for our sins to satisfy the demand of justice. He wants us to live with inner peace. He doesn’t want any “venom” left in our hearts. I firmly believe that through the miracles of forgiveness we can become true disciples of Christ. Just like what Prophet Joseph Smith said before he left for the Carthage Jail, “I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men.”7
Brothers and sisters, if any of you are having difficulties in forgiving others, please remember what Elder Bednar taught, “The enabling power of the Atonement of Christ [can] strengthen us to do things we could never do on our own.”8
I know this true principle is from God. We all can do it! ■
Caption: Elder Jui-Chang Juan
1 Doctrine & Covenants 64:9.
2 Doctrine and Covenants 64:10.
3 As reported in Marion D. Hanks, “Forgiveness: The Ultimate Form of Love,” Ensign, Jan. 1974, 21.Ensign
4 See Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness (1969), 262, 282.The Miracle of Forgiveness
5 See Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness (1969), 298-300, 339, 344.The Miracle of Forgiveness
6 Luke 23:34.
7 Doctrine and Covenants 135:4.
8 See David A. Bednar, ”In the Strength of the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 2004, 77.Ensign