Forgiveness is a divine part of the plan of happiness that was established for our mortal experience. When the Savior completed His earthly mission, not only did He make possible the gift of forgiveness for our own sins and mistakes, but He empowers us to grant forgiveness to others.
The scriptures are filled with truths about this beautiful gift. Moroni 6:8 records, “as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness with real intent, they were forgiven.” This scripture helps me remember that He forgives me whenever I come to Him with a sincere heart. No matter how many times I mess up on the same thing, if I am sincere in my repentance, He forgives.
The prophets of old around the world taught their people of the need for a Savior and His divine gift of forgiveness. We learn in the scriptures that forgiving is a commandment.
From Doctrine & Covenants 98:39-40 “And again, verily I say unto you, if after thine enemy has come upon thee the first time, he repent and come unto thee praying thy forgiveness, thou shalt forgive him, and shalt hold it no more as a testimony against thine enemy—
“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.”
Through the holy scriptures, we learn that forgiveness is a gift. Mosiah 26: 22 “For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance. And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive.”
Enos sought the Lord diligently, hoping to learn the truths for himself that his Prophet-father taught. His answer came straight to his heart saying, “And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.” (Enos 1:5) What a beautiful gift from God!
We learn that forgiveness comes only through Jesus Christ.
Doctrine & Covenants 109:34 “O Jehovah, have mercy upon this people, and as all men sin, forgive the transgressions of thy people, and let them be blotted out forever.” We also read in Acts 5:31 “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”
Elder Neil A. Anderson taught, “I testify that the Savior is able and eager to forgive our sins. Except for the sins of those few who choose perdition after having known a fulness, there is no sin that cannot be forgiven. What a marvelous privilege for each of us to turn away from our sins and to come unto Christ. Divine forgiveness is one of the sweetest fruits of the gospel, removing guilt and pain from our hearts and replacing them with joy and peace of conscience.” 1
We learn that we must extend forgiveness if we hope to obtain forgiveness.
Doctrine & Covenants 82:1 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, my servants, that inasmuch as you have forgiven one another your trespasses, even so I, the Lord, forgive you.”
He repeats His teaching using words that extend beyond forgiveness, but which teach us the same principle. Matthew 7: 2 “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
The most beautiful and heart-wrenching example of forgiveness in the scriptures comes as Jesus’ sacrifice is nearly complete. He has suffered beyond what He could have imagined in both the garden of Gethsemane and upon the cross. He is aware of those who caused Him such great pain and then sends the following plea to His Father. Luke23:34 “…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do...”
We can and ought to forgive even when it is difficult, when we have been treated unfairly or hurt. Forgiveness blesses us, often more than they who offended us. Are we not all beggars? Do we not all fall severely short of perfection?
1. “Repent… That I May Heal You,” Elder Neil A. Anderson, General Conference, October 2009