Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Real Reason We Must Forgive

I am totally convinced by C. Terry Warner's argument about why we must forgive. I'm prompted to repeat his argument here after reading this excellent thread at Millennial Star.

In D&C 64:9 we read:
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.
This statement sounds almost absurd on the face of it. If someone throws a frozen turkey into the windshield of your car and smashes your face, this scriptures says that if I don't forgive that person, I have committed a greater sin. If I fail to forgive a parent who abuses me, I'm the bigger sinner. How can this be?

Warner argues that the real issue is denying the atonement. When I refuse to forgive someone for any infraction, large or small, I am essentially saying, "Christ's suffering may have paid the price of many sins, but this particular offense is too big. Christ can't cover it. The offender MUST pay for his sin. God MUST punish him. I refuse to believe that the infinite price paid by the Redeemer can cover the cost of this crime against me. I demand more."

It is the ultimate hypocrisy for any one of us to argue that we deserve the grace of Christ but that it should not be extended to others.

This is not to say that extending forgiveness on our part is easy. Often it is difficult and often requires an extra measure of the grace of God in our lives to accomplish the mammoth task. It is also not to say that we are "letting the offender off the hook." We never had them on the hook. We can't let them off. They are indebted to justice. They must answer to God and the laws of the state. They do not answer to us for their sins. Because we forgive an offender does not mean that they are guiltless before God. They must go through the difficult process of repentance, but that is between them and the One who paid the price.

Another wise teacher told me that there is limited truth in the phrase "forgive and forget." We would not be wise to forget the sins of those who have offended us in serious matters. If a relative were to borrow money from us and fail to repay the sum, we can forgive them for the offense without loaning money to them in the future. We need not forget those who have abused our children; we have an obligation to protect them from further violence. Remembering is our duty. And so is forgiveness.


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  • I agree that this is the biggest reason to forgive.

    Upon pondering the necessity of forgiveness on the part of the agrieved party, the following occurred to me.

    If we can't accept our elder brother's atonement as payment in full for the sins of all our other brothers and sisters, how will we be able to accept our eldest spirit son's atonement as payment in full for the sins of all our other spirit children?

    Gospel Principles, Chapter 47, page 302, item #2 and #3 under the heading "Blessings of Exaltation."

    2. They will become gods.

    3. They will have their righteous family members with them and will be able to have spirit children also. These spirit children will have the same relationship to them as we do to our Heavenly Father. They will be an eternal family.

    By Blogger Bookslinger, at 3/14/2006 11:42 PM  

  • Very nice post. Great lesson.

    By Blogger Eric Nielson, at 3/15/2006 6:33 AM  

  • Oops! This post was written by me, Bradley. I didn't notice that Keryn was still logged in when I put this up. Blogger won't let you change it without deleting the post.

    Bookslinger, interesting angle on this!

    By Blogger Bradley Ross, at 3/15/2006 7:16 AM  

  • I should also clarify that none of these really bad things I talk about in my post have happened to me. I was using the word "I" in a rhetorical sense, not in a personal sense. I am very blessed with a fabulous family and a charmed life. I pray it lasts!

    By Blogger Bradley Ross, at 3/17/2006 11:20 AM  

  • Bookslinger wrote a comment on Times and Seasons that is similar to the point I've made here but with the power of his personal experience. Highly recommended.

    By Blogger Bradley Ross, at 3/22/2006 7:08 PM  

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