"...of you it is required to forgive..."
D&C 64: 9-11
"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.
"And ye ought to say in your hearts--let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds."
I taught about Section 64 this week in Seminary.
For a long time, especially as a teenager, references such as the one above seemed to alienate me from God. My thoughts then ran along the lines of: Wow! So God gets his own set of rules--which is fine, after all, he is GOD. But still, he says we're supposed to become like him, then he tells us, "Do as I say, not as I do..." But we're also told to follow his example. It all just seems a little inconsistent and very impossible, and I'm not sure I like this "God" guy, anyway. He seems a little harsh, judgmental, and unloving.
One day I realized that I had to figure out who God really was. I did an extremely in-depth search (because it seems impossible for me to do otherwise), read everything I could find, and after about six years I had come up with my "God profile". I had also developed an extremely close relationship with the entity with whom I will spend the rest of my life. I had come to know and adore my Heavenly Father.
There are certain traits that make up my Heavenly Father (please remember that this is "The Gospel According to Samantha" and that THIS IS MY BLOG!):
1. He loves unconditionally. It doesn't matter who you are, what you have done, or what you are now doing. He loves all His children.
2. His whole focus and purpose is to bring His children (whom he loves) back to Him. Moses 1:39: "For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." According to this scripture the Lord is glorified as we received immortality and eternal life--which seems, in my eyes, to be a rather interesting fact about God, himself. He links His glorification to our progress. One cannot happen without the other. In essence, He links Himself to His children. He doesn't want to be without them. He wants us back.
3. If numbers 1 and 2 are true, then it stands to reason that commandments given by the Lord are designed to bring us back to Him. They are to benefit us, personally, and not to allow God to have some weird power trip--which He really doesn't need--after all, He is omnipotent.
So that brings me back to D&C 64: 9-11. Why is it that WE have to forgive, but God does not?
When I presented this in class, I got all the usual answers:
1. It's our responsibility to be obedient. This is one place where we can show God that we are willing to do as He says.
2. We just have to forgive. It's not our responsibility to judge and punish others.
3. Forgiving others will help us be humble and learn charity.
4. It's the loving thing to do.
Then I got the "yabbut" that used to get to me in reference to this scripture (thereby granting me my opening to preach my opinion--so I was really glad someone else thinks along the same lines I do):
It doesn't seem fair that if someone commits a huge sin (say, someone murdered your son or daughter), and you're unable to forgive that person...how could lack of forgiveness be a greater sin than murdering someone's child?
The student posing this question went on to say that there was a "sort-of" answer in verse 11 ("let God judge between me and thee..."), but it's not particularly satisfying.
So here is my humble opinion, and right or wrong, it is what I believe motivates God to give us the commandment to forgive all mankind:
1. It's all about "me".
2. When we are wronged, we experience many horrifying and destructive emotions in various degrees and intensities. Those feelings are natural, need to be acknowledged, and are not sinful in any way.
3. Clinging to those feelings seperates us from the Spirit, and keeps us from progressing. Further, it can damage us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
4. Heavenly Father knows what we need to do to stay globally healthy and continue our progress as we make our way back to Him. Remaining in an unforgiving state stops that progress.
5. When we can not longer progress, we are "damned", stopped, finished. Therein is the "greater sin" referenced by the Lord. When we separate ourselves from Him, we sin against ourselves, we keep our souls from exaltation--in every way a greater sin, and one over which we have ultimate control.
After God tells us what we need to do to continue our progress when we are hurt by another, He then tells us how to do it. For"give". Give it to Him. Let Him be the judge. "And ye ought to say in your hearts--let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds." Give it up, give it away, give it to God.
Our Heavenly Father never says that it's okay for others to sin against us. He never says we have to believe everything is "okay." He never says we have to befriend or trust the person who has hurt us (although, if we could, that would certainly show charity). All that He requires is that we hand off all that hurt, anger, sadness, and anything else inspired by the trespass, to Him. In that way we can continue to make our way back to the Father who loves us and who wants the very best for His children.
It's not an easy task He has set before us, but I believe He prepares a way. Someday I will reach the point where I can give to my loving Father all the ache in my heart, allow myself to be healed, and continue forward. What a sweet and loving commandment: "...of you it is required to forgive..."