Tuesday, June 18, 2013

To err is human; to forgive, divine

I was asked to speak in church this past Sunday, which was also Father's day.  When I asked what the topic was, I was told, "Well, you can say a few words about your dad, and then I would like you to speak on the General Conference talk by Elder Craig Cardon, 'The Savior Wants to Forgive', which he gave in April conference."  I had about two weeks to prepare.  I did a lot of thinking and pondering during that time.  I read the talk several times and I had a lot of ideas float through my head.  Some stayed and made it on paper, others did not seem as important to the content of my talk.  The one thing that prominently lingered and I ended up focusing my talk around was this:  The Savior wants to forgive--some of the most easily remembered Bible stories of things he did during his mortality are ones of him forgiving, healing, making whole.
With that central thought in mind, here is the general idea of my talk:
The title father is sacred and eternal.
Why Stay Morally Clean--Elder Boyd K Packer--council of the twelve
July 1972

"It should have great meaning that of all the titles of respect and honor and admiration that could be given him, God himself, he who is the highest of all, chose to be addressed simply as Father."
The Savior Wants to Forgive--Elder Craig A Cardon--of the seventy
Our Heavenly Father knows what we are facing, that we all sin and “come short of the glory of God” again and again. He sent His Son, who “knoweth the weakness of man and how to succor them who are tempted.” His Son teaches us to “pray always that [we] enter not into temptation.” We are told to “cry unto [God] for mercy; for he is mighty to save.” The Savior commands us to repent and to forgive. And although repentance is not easy, as we strive with all our hearts to obey His gospel, He gives this promise: “Verily I say unto you, notwithstanding [your] sins, my bowels are filled with compassion towards [you]. I will not utterly cast [you] off; and in the day of wrath I will remember mercy.” The Savior wants to forgive.
Not only does the Savior want to forgive, it seems the whole motivation of his mortality was to forgive.
In general conference just last October, President Monson counseled:
“We need to bear in mind that people can change. They can put behind them bad habits. They can repent from transgressions. …
“… We can help them to overcome their shortcomings. We must develop the capacity to see men not as they are at present but as they may become.”
Think for a moment of the stories of Jesus... the woman taken in adultery (neither do I condemn thee), one of the ten lepers (thy faith hath made thee whole), the man afflicted with a palsy lowered through a roof by his friends (thy sins are forgiven thee), the woman diseased with an issue of blood twelve years (thy faith hath made thee whole).  Jesus was constantly healing and forgiving, he displayed the capacity to see men "as they may become". Even at the close of his mortality he pled with the Father to forgive those who were crucifying him.
How did Christ carry out his motivation to forgive?  A major evidence was mercy.
          3 Nephi 17: 7    Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy
            D&C 101: 9  Verily I say unto you, notwithstanding their sins, my bowels are filled with compassion towards them. I will not utterly cast them off; and in the day of wrath I will remember mercy.
            Alma 41: 14-15  Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again.
             For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored;
            Psalm 37: 21  The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.
            Colossians 3: 12-15   12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
             13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
             14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
             15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful
The Savior wants to forgive.  He was very specific about his purpose for coming to this world as our Savior.
Moroni 8: 8  Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick;
As the ultimate healer, our Savior has told us (in D&C 64:10), "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men."
This may seem difficult to us, yet while in mortality who did the Savior NOT forgive?  He showed us to do as he did -- forgive all.  And he showed us it is possible to forgive all men, even while we are mortal.
Elder Cardon includes the account of Peter asking how many times he should forgive
Providing an opportunity for the Savior to enlighten our understanding, Peter once inquired how many times he should forgive his brother and then asked, “Till seven times?” Surely that would be more than enough. But the Savior’s response opened wide the door to His merciful heart: “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”
The Lord loves us and wants us to understand His willingness to forgive. On more than 20 occasions in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord told those to whom He was speaking, “Thy sins are forgiven thee,” or similar words. On about half of those occasions, the Lord’s words were directed specifically to the Prophet Joseph Smith, sometimes addressing him alone, sometimes with others. The first of these was recorded in 1830, the last in 1843. Thus, over a span of many years, the Lord told Joseph repeatedly, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.”
While Joseph was not “guilty of any great or malignant sins,” we do well to remember that with very few exceptions, the Lord’s “seventy times seven” does not limit forgiveness according to the seriousness of the sin.
While speaking to elders assembled in Kirtland, the Lord said, “I will that ye should overcome the world; wherefore I will have compassion upon you.” The Lord knows our weakness and the eternal consequences of “the world” upon imperfect men and women. The word wherefore in this verse is His affirmation that it is only by virtue of His compassion that we may ultimately “overcome the world.”
Christ showed us the key to our ability to consistently forgive is to
[become] as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3: 19) 
The Savior wants to forgive.  Knowing this can help our submission to our Heavenly Father become easier as we remember the "inasmuch as you have forgiven one another your trespasses, even so I, the Lord, forgive you." (D&C 82:1)
The Savior wants to forgive.  We should want to forgive also.
For some time I have been pondering and thinking about what motivated the Savior while he was in mortality.  Having been asked what motivates me, and not being able to really give an answer of something that consistently motivates me in life, I decided that if I can't find what drives me to do stuff, then I need to find an example to follow and implement similar motivation in my own life.  Previously I had determined that the Savior seemed motivated at least by mercy.  After preparing for this talk I added the connected motivation of forgiveness.
If the Savior's actions were motivated by at least mercy and forgiveness, I can begin to see why he was considered worthy to and capable of completely enduring the atonement.  And why God the Father could say, "Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased... "

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