Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lesson Recap: The Power of Forgiving

The Saints should be armed with mercy
notwithstanding the iniquity among us.

“A man who had stood high in the Church while in Far West [Missouri], was taken down with chills or ague and fever. While his mind as well as body was weak, disaffected parties soured his mind and persuaded him to leave the Saints and go with them. He gave some testimony against the Prophet. While the Saints were settling in Commerce, having recovered from his illness, he removed from Missouri to Quincy, Illinois. There he went to work chopping cordwood to obtain means to take himself and family to Nauvoo, and [give] a present to the injured man of God if, peradventure, he would forgive and permit him to return to the fold. … He felt that there was salvation nowhere else for him and if that was denied him all was lost as far as he was concerned. He started with a sorrowful heart and downcast look.

“While [the man was] on the way the Lord told Brother Joseph he was coming. The Prophet looked out of the window and saw him coming up the street. As soon as he turned to open the gate the Prophet sprang up from his chair and ran and met him in the yard, exclaiming, ‘O Brother—–, how glad I am to see you!’ He caught him around the neck and both wept like children.

“Suffice it to say that proper restitution was made and the fallen man again entered the Church by the door, received his Priesthood again, went upon several important missions, gathered with the Saints in Zion and died in full faith.”

This man could have used his illness to excuse his behavior, but his heart was changed and he did all he could to seek out all injured parties and make restitution.

Joseph freely forgave him and welcomed him back.

Forgiveness involves mercy, long-suffering, patience, sorrow, joy, justice, restitution, strength, tenderness, loss, and unity.

The natural woman in us makes this principle challenging to live, sometimes. We judge, we misunderstand and we are ever trying to balance mercy with the desire for justice.

This is where the Atonement comes in to soften our hearts that we may have mercy towards one another.

It is necessary in our families, and in a ward family, where we know so much about each other and our weaknesses.

Forgiving can restore unity of feeling, trust, and peace in our lives.

Let us emulate Joseph Smith's example, "And I will now covenant with you before God, that I will not listen to or credit any derogatory report against any of you, nor condemn you upon any testimony beneath the heavens, ... until I can see you face to face, and know of a surety; and I do place unremitted confidence in your word, for I believe you to be [wo]men of truth."

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