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JACK - Are there situations in which we are not required to forgive those who have done us wrong?
The scriptures say:
"I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. (D&C 64: 10)
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matt 6:14-15)
"Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." (Matt 18:21-22)
And if the person doesn't come to you to ask forgiveness, you should go to him:
"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone:
if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother." (Matt. 18:15)
It appears that we are to forgive everyone of everything. There is however, one interesting situation
described in the Doctrine and Covenants:
"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.
And if he trespass against thee and repent not the
first time, nevertheless thou shalt forgive him.
And if he trespass against thee the second time, and
repent not, nevertheless thou shalt forgive him.
And if he trespass against thee the third time, and
repent not, thou shalt also forgive him.
But if he trespass against thee the fourth time thou
shalt not forgive him, but shalt bring these
testimonies before the Lord; and they shall not be
blotted out until he repent and reward thee four-fold
in all things wherewith he has trespassed against
And if he do this, 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 98:39-45)
These scriptures were received in response to the great persecutuion the saints were under in Missouri.
But things will rarely happen like this to us and even if it does we are to leave it in the hands of the Lord.
Those who refuse to forgive another must suffer the misery and bitterness that will follow them their
entire life as a result of their unforgiving attitude.
President Hinckley said:
"How difficult it is for any of us to forgive those
who have injured us. We are all prone to brood on the
evil done us. That brooding becomes as a gnawing and
destructive canker. Is there a virtue more in need of
application in our time than the virtue of forgiving
and forgetting? There are those who would look upon
this as a sign of weakness. Is it? I submit that it
takes neither strength nor intelligence to brood in
anger over wrongs suffered, to go through life with a
spirit of vindictiveness, to dissipate one’s abilities
in planning retribution. There is no peace in the
nursing of a grudge. There is no happiness in living
for the day when you can “get even.” " (Gordon B.
Hinckley, “Of You It Is Required to Forgive,” Ensign, June 1991, 2)
Although we are required to forgive everyone this does not mean that someone who commits a crime against us
should not be lawfully and civilly punished for it, if it is in the best interest of society. But at the same
time we can in a personal way forgive that person to bring peace to our own souls.