Is it a sin to inflict misery on others?

We must forgive others wholeheartedly

From the life of Spencer W. Kimball

When President Spencer W. Kimball shared how we can be forgiven, he also emphasized the importance of the principle of forgiving others. He urged everyone to make an effort to develop a willingness to forgive. He related the following incident:

“In a small church… I faced difficulties. Two prominent men, both public leaders, had become bogged down in a long, relentless argument. Some misunderstanding had ripped them apart and enmity arose. Over the course of the days, weeks and months, the fronts hardened more and more. The families concerned also got involved, and in the end almost the entire community was involved. Rumors were buzzing, the controversy was carried out in public, gossip was carried on as if with fiery tongues, until the small community was divided by a deep chasm. I was sent to clear up the matter. ... I [arrived] at the difficult church at six o'clock on Sunday evening. I immediately held a meeting with the main opponents.

How we wrestled with each other! How I pleaded and advised and warned and urged! Nothing seemed to affect her. Everyone was so convinced of their point of view and felt so right that it was impossible to move them.

The hours passed. It was long after midnight and it seemed as if despair enveloped us all. The mood was still irritable and indignant. Nobody wanted to give up their stubborn resistance. But then it happened. I opened the Doctrine and Covenants at random and there was it before me. I had read it many times in the past, but it hadn't meant anything to me then. But that evening it was exactly the right answer. It was an appeal, a pleading, and a threat at the same time, and it apparently came straight from the Lord. I read [section 64] from verse seven, but the contending parties did not give way until I got to verse nine. Then I saw her flinch, startled and amazed. Could that be true? The Lord addresses us, all of us: 'That is why I say to you: You should forgive one another.'

It was an obligation, and they'd heard it before. They said it themselves when they prayed the Lord's Prayer. But now: 'For whoever does not forgive his brother's wrongdoing is guilty before the Lord.'

You might still have thought to yourself, 'Yes, I can forgive him if he turns back and asks forgiveness; but he has to start! "Then she hit the last line with full force:" For the greater sin remains on him. "

What? Does that mean that I have to forgive my opponent, even if he remains unmoved, indifferent and mean? Yes, there is no doubt about that.

It is a common misconception that whoever has wronged should apologize and humiliate himself to the dust before he can be forgiven. It is true that the offender should first do whatever is necessary on his part to clear the matter up, but as far as the offender is concerned, he must forgive the offender, whatever their attitude may be. Sometimes people get satisfaction when they get on their knees throwing themselves in the dust, but that's not what the gospel is supposed to do.

Confused, the two men sat up, listened and thought for a minute; then they began to give way. After all the other scriptures I read, this one brought her to her knees. It was two o'clock in the morning when two bitter enemies shook hands, smiled and forgave each other and asked for forgiveness. The embrace of the two had a deep meaning, it was a sacred hour. What they had previously reproached themselves for was forgiven and forgotten, and the enemies became friends again. The argument never came up again. It was like burying the skeletons of the past, locking the burial chamber, and throwing the key away. Peace was restored. "1

Throughout his term in office, President Kimball exhorted members to be forgiving: “If there is a misunderstanding, clear it, forgive, and forget; do not let old resentments change and affect your soul and destroy your love and life. Put your house in order. Love one another, love your neighbor, your friends, the people around you, just as the Lord gives you this strength. "2

Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball

We must forgive in order to be forgiven.

If forgiveness is an unconditional prerequisite for eternal life, one naturally asks: How can I best secure this forgiveness for myself? Of the many basic conditions, one immediately stands out because it is essential: Those who want to be forgiven must forgive themselves.3

“For if you forgive people their wrongdoings, then your heavenly Father will forgive you too.

But if you do not forgive people, your Father will not forgive you for your wrongdoings "(Matthew 6: 14-15).

It's hard? Certainly. The Lord never promised us that the way would be easy, the gospel easy, the standards or the norm low. The price is high, but the good one gets is worth all the effort. The Lord also turned the other cheek; he allowed himself to be pushed and beaten without rebelling; he has endured all shame without uttering a word of condemnation. And his question to all of us is, “Therefore, what kind of men shall you be?” And his answer to us is, “As I am” (3 Nephi 27:27).4

We must sincerely forgive others, and it must come with all our hearts.

That one is commanded to forgive and that one will be found guilty for failure to do so could not be more clearly expressed than in the following modern revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“My disciples in olden days sought cause for one another and did not forgive one another in their hearts; and because of this evil they have been harassed and severely chastened.

That is why I say to you, you must forgive one another; for whoever does not forgive his brother's wrongdoing is guilty before the Lord; for the greater sin remains on him.

I, the Lord, forgive whom I will forgive, but you are required to forgive all men ”(D&C 64: 8-10.) ...

This also applies to us today. After a reconciliation is made, many say they have forgiven one another, yet they persist in their malice and continue to suspect the other and do not believe in his or her righteousness. This is a sin, because when reconciliation has come about and repentance has been expressed, everyone must forgive and forget, re-establish the broken relationship, and restore the previous understanding.

Obviously the disciples in the early Church expressed their forgiveness in words and superficially put things right, but they "have not forgiven one another in their hearts." But that is not forgiveness, it smells of hypocrisy, deception and excuses. As included in Christ's model prayer, it must be an act of the heart and one must purify oneself [see Matthew 6:12; see also verses 14 and 15]. Forgiveness means forgetting. A woman in a small church had allowed herself to be moved towards reconciliation and uttered the appropriate gestures and an abundance of words of forgiveness. But then she uttered with flashing eyes: “I forgive her, but I have a memory like an elephant. I will never forget it! ”Her alleged forgiveness was worthless, was null and void. There was still bitterness in her heart. Her kind words were like a spider's web, the re-established relationships were like straw, and she continued to find no peace of mind. Worse still, she was “guilty before the Lord,” and there remained an even greater sin in her than in the other woman who allegedly wronged her.

Little did this quarrelsome woman realize that she had not forgiven the other person at all. She was just pretending. Her wheels were spinning and she was stuck. In the scripture quoted above, have the words in her heart a deep meaning. You have to free your feelings and thoughts and get rid of all bitterness. Words are not enough.

“For behold, when a man who is evil gives a gift, he does it reluctantly; therefore it is credited to him as if he had withheld the gift; therefore he is counted as wicked before God ”(Moroni 7: 8.)

Henry Ward Beecher put this thought into words as follows: "To be able to forgive but not forget means, in other words, not to be able to forgive."

I may add: if someone does not commit his brother's wrongdoing all my heart forgives, he is not worthy to partake of the sacrament.5

We are to leave the judgment to the Lord.

If we are to be right, we must forgive, and that is regardless thereon, whether our adversary turns back and how sincere his walk is and whether he asks our forgiveness or not. We must follow the example and teaching of our Master who said, "You should say in your heart, let God judge between me and you and reward you according to your deeds" (D&C 64:11). But people want it often not left to the Lord because they fear that the Lord will be too merciful and not act as strictly as the case requires.6

Some people not only cannot or do not want to forgive and forget, but also dare to hunt down and torment the alleged violator. I have already received letters and calls from many who have determined to take the sword of justice into their own hands and have presumed to see that the transgressor finds his punishment. “This person has to be excluded,” one woman exclaimed, “and I will not rest until he has got what he deserves.” Another said: “I cannot find peace as long as this person is still a member of the Church.” Then someone again: “I won't be able to go to the meetinghouse for as long as this brother is allowed in. I want a court to see whether he can remain a member. ”One man even drove to Salt Lake City several times and wrote several long letters complaining about the bishop and the stake president who failed to conduct adequate disciplinary action against someone who, he claimed, was against the laws of the Church.

We read again the unequivocal statement of the Lord to all those who would like to take justice into their own hands: “For on him remains the greater sin.” (D&C 64: 9) should say in your heart: Let God judge between you and me and reward you according to your deeds ”(D&C 64:11). If anyone has learned of a transgression and has properly reported it to the appropriate church official, he should not pursue further and leave responsibility to the officer. If an official allows members to sin, he takes a terrible responsibility and will be held accountable for it.7

The Lord will judge us by the same standards we apply to others. If we are strict and hard, we must expect nothing other than hardness and severity. If we are compassionate to those who offend us, he will also be compassionate to us when we make mistakes. If we are not ready to forgive, he will not lift us out of our sins.

Not only does the Holy Scriptures clearly state that the same standards would one day be applied to people as they were measured - no, even where regular judgments have to be made, this is not due to the layperson, but to the authorized authorities of the Church and State. The final, decisive judgment is made by the Lord. ...

The Lord can judge people not only according to their words and deeds, but also according to their thoughts; for he even knows the intentions of their heart, which, of course, people cannot. We hear what someone is saying, we see what someone is doing, but we are unable to see what someone is thinking and intending, and therefore we often make wrong judgments when trying to explore the motivation for their actions and to follow their thoughts , but then ascribe our own interpretation to them.8

Even when it is difficult, we can forgive.

On the subject of forgiveness, a good brother asked me, “Yes, you should do that, but how do you do it? A superman is almost necessary for this. "

“Yes,” I replied, “but we are commanded to be a superman. The Lord said: 'You must be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is.' (Matthew 5:48) We are embryonic gods, and the Lord requires us to be perfect. "

“Sure, Christ has forgiven those who did wrong to him; but he was also more than human, ”he replied.

To which I replied: "There are still many people who have been able to use this divine quality."

Apparently there are many who, like this good brother, advocate the comfortable theory that forgiveness ... is more or less the monopoly of characters from scripture or poetry and should hardly be expected of real people in today's world. That's not true.9

I knew a young mother whose husband had died. The family had fared badly and the amount insured was only $ 2,000, but it was like a godsend. After receiving the official death certificate, the insurance company immediately sent her the check. The young widow decided to save the money in case of an emergency, so she deposited it in the bank. Others found out about the credit, and a relative persuaded them to borrow the $ 2,000 from him at a very high interest rate.

Years passed and she received no interest or principal. She noticed that the debtor avoided her and made evasive promises whenever she asked him about the money. Now she needed the money and couldn't get it.

"How I hate him!" She said to me, her mouth spitting poison and bile, her dark eyes flashing. He was a sane man - how could he betray a young widow who also had to look after her children! "I hate him!" She kept repeating. Then I told her about how a man had forgiven his father's murderer. She listened carefully. I saw how impressed she was. At the end she had tears in her eyes and whispered: “Thank you, thank you very much. Surely I must forgive my enemy too. I will now purify my heart of all bitterness. I don't expect to see my money ever again, but I leave it to the Lord who has wronged me. "

Weeks later she came back to me and told me that these past weeks had been the best of her whole life. A new peace swept over her and she was able to pray for and forgive the wrongdoer, though she never got a dollar back of her money.10

When we forgive others, we free ourselves from hatred and bitterness.

Why does the Lord ask you to love your enemies and to reward bad with good? So that you can benefit from it yourself. Because it does no harm to the person you hate, especially if they are far away and not in contact with you. But hatred and bitterness eat away at your unforgiving heart. ...

Perhaps Peter had met people who were constantly hurting him. He asked:

"Lord, how many times do I have to forgive my brother if he sins against me?"

And the Lord said:

"Not seven times, but seventy-seven times" (Matthew 18: 21,22.) ...

Most of us can forgive after repenting and kneeling down to ask for forgiveness, but the Lord has requested that we forgive even if the other does not repent and ask for forgiveness. ...

It must therefore be perfectly clear to us that even then we must forgive without retribution or vengeance, because the Lord will do whatever is necessary for us. ... bitterness hurts whoever feels it; it hardens, humiliates and devours us.11

It often happens that someone is insulted and the wrongdoer is completely unaware of it. He has said or done something that has been misinterpreted or misunderstood. The victim keeps the offense in their hearts and adds other things that could add fuel to the fire and justify their conclusions. It may be because of this that the Lord demands that those who have been offended take the first step towards reconciliation.

“And if your brother or sister does you injustice, you should take him or her, between him or her and you alone; and if he or she confesses, you shall be reconciled ”(D&C 42:88).

Do we obey this commandment, or do we sulk in our bitterness and wait for the one who has insulted us to find out and fall on his knees in remorse?12

Perhaps if we wither and perish under the poison of bitterness and hatred, we may resent our parents, or a teacher, or the bishop, and plunge ourselves into a vast abyss. The hated person continues to go about his business and hardly notices the suffering of the hateful - so he deceives himself. ...

When we become inactive in the Church just to bash the leaders or to give free rein to our hurt feelings, we are deceiving ourselves.13

Amid the discrepancies of hatred, bitterness and retribution that one hears so often these days, the soft sound of forgiveness acts like a healing balm, and it has a great effect on those who forgive.14

When we forgive others, we are blessed with joy and peace.

Inspired by the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul showed us the solution to those life problems that require understanding and forgiveness. “Be kind to one another, be merciful, forgive one another, because God also forgave you through Christ” (Ephesians 4:32) forgives - then there would soon be no selfishness, no more distrust and no more bitterness, which has broken so many families, but people would live together peacefully.15

Forgiveness is a wonderful substance that ensures harmony and love, be it in the family or in the church. Without forgiveness there is only quarrel. Without understanding and forgiveness, there will be arguments, then a lack of harmony, and this will lead to unfaithfulness - in the family, branch, and church. On the other hand, forgiveness corresponds to the spirit of the gospel, namely the spirit of Christ. And that is the spirit we must all be gripped by if we are to be forgiven for our own sins and to stand before God innocently.16

Often pride gets in our way and becomes a stumbling block for us. But we all have to ask ourselves: "Is my pride more important to me than my peace of mind?"

Too often it happens that someone who has done excellently and done service to humanity is prevented by his pride from receiving the reward to which he should have been entitled. Constantly, in sackcloth, so to speak, we must have a forgiving heart and contrite mind, and be willing to show genuine humility, as the tax collector did [see Luke 18: 9-14], and if we are to be forgiven we must: ask the Lord for help.17

As long as there is earthly life, we live and work with imperfect people; there will be misunderstandings and insults, and sensitive feelings will be hurt. The best intentions are often misunderstood. It is gratifying that there are many who, in true greatness of soul, have rectified their thinking, overcome their pride, and forgive what they have viewed as a personal offense. Countless others who have walked into hopeless misery on dangerous, lonely and thorny paths have finally accepted the improvement, recognized the error, purged their hearts of bitterness and have regained peace, the desired peace that is so clearly lacking when he does not exist. And the disappointments that cause criticism, bitterness and the resulting alienation have given way to warmth, light and peace.18

You can do it, you can overcome yourself. Man can cope with it. He can forgive all who have wronged against him, and if he does he will have peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.19

When we seek peace by all means and when we take the initiative to resolve disputes, when we forgive and forget with all our hearts, when we cleanse our own being of sin, bitterness and guilt before throwing a stone or accusation at others, when we forgive all real and imagined insults before we seek forgiveness for our own sins, when we paid our own debts, be they big or small, before we put pressure on our debtors, when we kept our own eyes off Free the bar that blinds us before we puff up the speck of dust in the eyes of others - how wonderful this world would be! There would be almost no more divorces, the courts would not have to struggle with repulsive cases again and again, family life would be close to heaven, the building of the kingdom of God would proceed more quickly, and peace that is beyond understanding [see Philippians 4: 7] would bring joy and happiness for all of us, “which no one has thought of” [see 1 Corinthians 2: 9].20

May the Lord bless us all so that we always carry the true spirit of repentance and forgiveness in our hearts until we are perfect and face the glories of exaltation that await those who are faithful in all things.21

Suggestions for study and teaching

Keep these suggestions in mind as you study the chapter or as you prepare for the lesson. See pages vii-xii for more ideas.

  • Read the story on page 106ff. once again. Why is it sometimes so difficult for people to forgive one another? What does it mean to you, “for upon him remains the greater sin” (D&C 64: 9)?

  • Read again Matthew 6: 14–15, quoted by President Kimball on page 109. Why do you think we need to forgive others so that we can be forgiven by the Lord?

  • What behavior and actions show that our willingness to forgive others is deeply felt and comes wholeheartedly? (See pp. 109–11.) Why does forgiveness have to be “an act of the heart”?

  • Read the section that begins on page 112 again. What doctrines of the gospel can help us willing to leave judgment to the Lord?

  • If you read the story of the young mother on pages 114–14. read, look for what initially stopped her from forgiving and what then helped her eventually to forgive. How can we overcome the obstacles that stand in our way of wanting and trying to forgive others?

  • What are the consequences of not being willing to forgive? (See pages 115–11.) What blessings have you received after forgiving others? Think about ways to practice forgiveness in your relationships.

Related Scriptures: Matthew 5: 43-48; Luke 6: 36-38; Colossians 3: 12-15; D&C 82:23