I, the Lord will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. -D&C 64:10
Gospel Truth: Forgiveness is using the power within us to overcome anger, feelings of revenge, and unhappy and bad feelings. Oue Heavenly Father commanded us to forgive everyone, and he will help us as we try to keep this commandment. (FHE Resource Book).
Print the letters F,O,R,G,I,V,E, on seven small pieces of paper. Mix them up and give them to family members to make into a word. Give them help if needed. When the word is complete ask each family member to complete the sentence, "Forgiveness is ________________.
Read the above gospel truth and D&C 64:10.
All of us will have to exercise the principle of forgiveness in our lives, sometimes repeatedly or for great injustices. I am thankful that my father showed me the importance of forgiveness in his life.
Personal story: Shortly after my Dad was called to be Bishop when I was a teen-ager, a distant relative called the Stake President and told him lies about my father and that he should not be Bishop.. In my youthfulness, I was livid and thought we should take legal action against this relative. My father calmed me, ignored the claims and showed me the principles of forgiveness. Life went on and this relative faded into the background. I am greatful for his example as I have had to use these principles multiple times in my own life.
Expeience by Cheif Blue of the Catawba Indian Nation: "One day my eleven-year-old son went squirrel hunting with six other Indians. He saw a squirrel run up a tree and cimbed up to scare it out on a limb. After he had done this he called to the others to hodd their fire until he could get down. One of the Indians in the hunting party had always been jealous of me and my position as chief. He and his son both both shot deliberaately at my boy. He was filled with buckshot from his knees to his head. The Indians carried my boy towards home and found a spot where they lay him while they ran for the doctor. A friend came and found me and said, "Sam, run home at once; your boy has been shot.." I ran all the way home and found my boy near death. The doctor was there and said that the boy would not live. He was right; the boy died in a few minutes. The man and son who had done the shooting were in my front yard visiting with members of the crowd that had gathered. They did not appear to be upset at their deed. My heart filled with revenge and hatred. Something seemed to whisper to me, "If you don't take down your gun and kill that man who murdered your son Sam Blue, you are a coward.."
Now I have been a Mormon ever since I have been a young lad and I knew it would not be right to take revenge. I decided to pray to the Lord about it. I walked to my secret place out in the timber where I have always gone to pray alone when I have a special problem, and there I prayed to the Lord to take revenge out of my heart. I soon felt better and started back to the house. But again I heard something inside whisper, again I turned back and prayed until I felt better. On my way back to the house I again heard the voice say, "Sam Blue, you are a coward." I turned again and went back to pray and this time I told the Lord he must help me or I would be a killler. I asked him to take revenge out of my heart and to keep it out. I felt good when I got up from praying. I went back to the house a third time and when I reached the house I went out and shook hands with the Indian who had killed my boy. There was no hatred or desire for revenge in my heart. (See Marion G. Romney The Power of God Unto Salvation, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year[Provo,3 February 1960] pp.6-7.)
Ask: Was it too much to expect Chief Blue to forgive his son's killers - especially when they did not repent? How did Chief Blue's strong desire to overcome hatred and revenge make it possible for him to forgive? Where did he get the strength to forgive?
If desired and if time, you may want to contrast the above experience with the parable of the unmerciful servant. (See Matthew 35).
Emphasize the importance of wanting to forgive, believing we have the power to forgive, and receiving the blessing of having hatred and revenge taken from our hearts.
Possible Hymns: Should You Feel Inclined To Censure, Love One Another (LDS Hymnbook)
Person of the Week: Jacob Hill When he went to meet his Preschool teacher, she asked if he was always as happy as that day. His mother said yes! Conggratulations to "happy boy", Jacob!