THE WORD: The light of forgiveness
Published 6:10 pm Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Recently a good friend experienced a heart attack while demonstrating his prowess on the basketball court. Thankfully, through the grace of God, the prayers and faith of his family and friends, and the well-trained lightning reflexes of those around him, he came back to us after being clinically dead for several minutes.
With hundreds, if not thousands, of references to the heart in God’s word, there are so many possible devotionals dedicated to the heart! The scriptures are full of stories of hard hearts (Exodus 7:13), hearts full of praise (Psalm 9:1), meek hearts (Matthew 11:29), sorrowful hearts (John 16:6), and hearts that burn with a testimony of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 24:32). Hearts can melt with fear (Joshua 5:1), be glad with joy (Exodus 4:14), and inspire us to seek the Lord (2 Chronicles 11:16).
The root cause of most heart attacks is some kind of blockage in the artery. What are the blockages in our own spiritual hearts? Like the material blocking adequate blood flow in a cardiac patient, what hinders the free flow of God’s influence in our lives?
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One thing that can slow our personal progress on the pathway of true discipleship is the sometimes-challenging commandment to forgive others. The ability to freely and frankly forgive others indicates an advanced understanding of the grace offered to all by the Savior. It demonstrates that we fully understand that, in a sense, we are all beggars seeking God’s mercy. It reveals that we know that we have a part in God’s mission to save souls. Is it any wonder that, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made forgiveness a central part of his teaching?
He said: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath fought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). Forgiving others is a key to receiving the healing balm of forgiveness for ourselves.
Like the humble father that implored Jesus: “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24), we can call upon God to soften our hearts so that we can let in the light of forgiveness. Studying the scriptures, and the lives of those who sought and found forgiveness, can inspire us to do the same.
Weekly gathering with fellow disciples to partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper gives us an opportunity to evaluate our current course and make corrections as needed.
As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught, “The Healer of every wound, He who rights every wrong, asks us to labor with Him in the daunting task of peacemaking in a world that won’t find it any other way.”
BRENT ROBERTS is the Elders Quorum President in the Sandy River Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also Dean of Greenwood Library at Longwood University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.