Wednesday, January 18, 2017

President Thomas S. Monson on the blessings of forgiveness and mercy

President Thomas S. Monson (b. August 21, 1927) was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1963. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency with Presidents Benson, Hunter, and Hinckley until becoming Church president in 2008.
"In the Book of Mormon, Alma describes beautifully the [Lord's mercy] with his words: 'The plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.' (Alma 42:15.)
"From the springboard of such knowledge we ask ourselves, Why, then, do we see on every side those instances where people decline to forgive one another and show forth the cleansing act of mercy and forgiveness? What blocks the way for such healing balm to cleanse human wounds? Is it stubbornness? Could it be pride? Maybe hatred has yet to melt and disappear....
"There are those among us who torture themselves through their inability to show mercy and to forgive others some supposed offense or slight, however small it may be. At times the statement is made, 'I never can forgive [this person or that person].' Such an attitude is destructive to an individual's well-being. It can canker the soul and ruin one's life. In other instances, an individual can forgive another but cannot forgive himself. Such a situation is even more destructive....
"Should you or I have erred or spoken harshly to another, it is good to take steps to straighten out the matter and to move onward with our lives. 'He [who] cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven; for every one has need to be forgiven.' (George Herbert)"
- Thomas S. Monson, "Mercy—The Divine Gift," Ensign, May 1995, pp. 54-60
Click here to read or listen to the full article
Mercy is such a beautiful, hopeful concept. Oh, how we depend on God's mercy for us! The fact that He can be both a "perfect, just God, and a merciful God also" is truly a wonder—what a remarkable doctrine that is. He is so eager to forgive, through the blessings and merits of the atonement of the Son.

President Monson then ponders: given that marvelous gift, why do we fail to emulate it in our personal lives? If God is willing to extend mercy to us, how can we fail to do so as we interact with one another? The impact of our unwillingness can be lasting and profound:

In modern revelation, the Lord counseled explicitly: "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men" (D&C 64:10). And that includes forgiving ourselves when we have properly resolved our mistakes of the past. That's a good principle to ponder.

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