Thursday, July 9, 2015

Building a Celestial Family: Part 1

Forgive quickly and fully. 

We owe our families the kind of relationship we can take into the presence of God. . . . We can determine to forgive quickly and fully. We can try to seek the happiness of others above our own. We can be kind in our speech. As we try to do all these things, we will invite the Holy Ghost into our families and into our lives.
Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency (source)

The guide to the scriptures says: "As people forgive each other, they treat one another with Christlike love and have no bad feelings toward those who have offended them." That's kind of big. The Gospel of Luke records Jesus as telling us, "If [a brother] trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4). Jesus again commands us to forgive without end in Matthew: "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven" (Matt 18:21-22). 

The Savior said this to us again in our day through the Prophet Joseph Smith "And so on unto the second and third time; and as oft as thine enemy repenteth of the trespass wherewith he has trespassed against thee, thou shalt forgive him, until seventy times seven." (D&C 98:40). The Lord commands us that if someone continues to hurt us withour repenting, we are still to forgive him: " And if he do this [continue in wrongdoing without repentance], thou shalt forgive him with all thine heart; and if he do not this, I, the Lord, will avenge thee of thine enemy an hundred-fold" (D&C 98:45). The Savior asks us to forgive everyone, but He doesn't ask us to make them pay. Like every single commandment the Lord gives, this is for our benefit. Holding a grudge hurts. Living in anger is not fun. Scientific studies in recent years are showing that a lack or forgiveness on our part makes us unhealthy. The command to forgive those who persecute us is given for our benefit. The Lord tells us to forgive others because He knows we can't live the abundance that He desires for us when we carry all that hurt. The Lord assures us that when we forgive, this person isn't receiving a "get out of jail free" card: "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men" (D&C 64:10).  He's allowing us to let go and move on, while assuring us that He will take care of the justice or mercy towards this person. Vengeance is not our job. However many times we say "I hate this person," it won't make up for the wrong. It won't give us any peace. The only peace comes from the Savior, when we know we are forgiven, and we forgive others. 

I worked a bible camp for kids this week. On Thursday, our Bible point or catch phrase for the day was "God has the power to forgive." The teachers told the kids that God has this power, and He shares it with us. God forgives us, and He gives us the power to turn around and forgive other people. That's true for little kids, for grown-ups, and for teens. He forgives all if we repent, and He gives us the power to forgive and let go of that hurt. 

It is important for us to forgive in our families. "Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness" (Bible Dictionary, "Temple"). Our homes are supposed to be as sacred and holy as the temple. That's pretty sacred and holy. Can we have that holiness, that presence of the Lord, when we are forgetting to ask forgiveness and give forgiveness? when we are holding grudging and getting even? No. Gordon B. Hinckley said, "Mercy is the essence of the gospel." Our homes should be places of mercy and forgiveness. If children don't experience forgiveness in their homes, how will they believe that our God is a god of forgiveness? (Nehemiah 9:17). We, especially those of us members living in nonmember homes are to be "an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Tim 4:12). If the essence of the gospel is forgiveness, shouldn't we be abundantly splashing our families with forgiveness?

This post is part of a series entitled "Building a Celestial Family." You can find the rest here: IntroPart 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

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