For many years I struggled with God’s command to forgive others. I sincerely desired to forgive certain people in my life, but I just couldn’t do it. I would have days when I thought I had conquered my unforgiving feelings, but then something would happen and I was right back where I started.
My hearts desire was to gain forgiveness of my own sins. I knew that securing my forgiveness depended upon me freely forgiving others. After all, it was only fair that Heavenly Father withhold my forgiveness when I had not given it to others. There were many times that this knowledge drove me to despair. The burning question I lived with year after year was “how? How do I forgive others?”
Looking back, I realize that the reason it was so hard for me to forgive others was because I followed the example of my father. He was a very unforgiving man, especially towards his children. Whenever we did anything against his will, he gave us many requirements to follow before he would grant his forgiveness. He believed that working hard in all areas of our lives proved we were truly repentant of the wrong we had committed.
He also kept a record of our mistakes and whenever we repeated the same thing twice, he flung the previous sin back in our faces. Then, we had to start all over, until we truly overcame that sin. Only then could we prove that our repentance was sincere.
I’m not referring to my earthly father, but rather to my Heavenly Father; at least the one I grew up with in the LDS church. This god truly is an unforgiving god! You can read about him on my blog page “The LDS Process of Repentance.” Here, you will find pages of quotes by LDS prophets and apostles, defining the unforgiving god of Mormonism and its savior.
The “Christ” taught in Mormonism requires you to freely forgive everyone, even though he doesn’t hold himself to the same standard: “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.” (D & C 64:9-10).
In my late twenties I lost faith in the unforgiving god of Mormonism, but my life became no better. I was so miserable I would have committed suicide had I not had my children who needed me. Amazingly, at the age of 36 a miracle happened. The Holy Ghost brought me to faith in the “living” Christ and God adopted me into His eternal family. Through faith, I became God’s dear child and immediately received forgiveness of all my sins.
I was so thankful to be God’s true child that I began pouring over all the love letters He had written for me (found in the Bible). Here, I learned much about my loving, merciful and forgiving Father in Heaven. This God’s love was so great that He sent His Son Jesus to take the punishment that I deserved for my sins. It was at Christ’s Atonement where all my sins had been forgiven—through the shedding of His life’s blood.
From the Apostle Peter I learned that LDS prophets are false. Forgiveness is not gained through obedience–Christ has already gained forgiveness for us over 2000 years ago! It is through faith in Him that we receive the forgiveness He has already won for us: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43)
I was especially thrilled when I learned from God’s Word the key to forgiving others. It was the knowledge that all my sins had already been forgiven that unlocked my unforgiving heart. I realized I could afford to forgive others because I had already been so richly blessed with forgiveness.
All I had to do was follow the example of my Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ. After all, the unmerciful servant was expected to forgive those indebted to him only after his entire debt had first been canceled (Matthew 18). It became easy to forgive others when I remembered that every one of my sins had already been forgiven.
Now, whenever I feel someone has treated me unfairly, I turn to scripture as a reminder of my forgiving Father in Heaven’s example: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
And, the example of my Savior: “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Colossians 3:13)
Is there someone you can’t seem to forgive, especially since they don’t deserve it? The key is to see that all your sins have already been forgiven—even though you don’t deserve it! After all, forgiveness is an inherently “unfair” concept. Thank goodness the true Heavenly Father isn’t fair! Instead of punishing those who deserved it, He punished His Son Jesus instead.
His Son’s blood has covered your every sin—believe it and receive it! Once you do, you truly will be blessed: “Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Romans 4:7-8 )
(This Post was first written January 29th, 2010, titled: Do You Find it Difficult to Forgive Others?. I have re-posted it for this months Preparing For Exaltation Lesson 34: Forgiving Others; and next months Gospel Principles Chapter 19: Repentance. Page 111 claims:
“We Must Forgive Others. A vital part of repentance is to forgive those who have sinned against us. The Lord will not forgive us unless our hearts are fully cleansed of all hate, bitterness, and bad feelings against other people”)