I recently remembered a little song the children sing in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about forgiveness and offense:


primary kidsHelp me, dear Father, to freely forgive
All who may seem unkind to me.


Help me each day, Father, I pray;
Help me live nearer, nearer to thee.


Help me, dear Father, to truly repent,
Making things right, and changing my ways.


Help me each day, Father, I pray;
Help me live nearer, nearer to thee.


(Frances K. Taylor, “Help Me, Dear Father,” Children’s Songbook)


Ironically, whatever the case, it can be difficult to forgive those who hurt us.


I am both comforted and stirred up by these words, revealed through the prophet Joseph Smith:


My disciples, in days of old, sought occasion against one another and forgave not one another in their hearts; and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened.


Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.


I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.


And ye ought to say in your hearts — let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds.


(Doctrine and Covenants 64:8-11)


Firstly, if the disciples of Jesus Christ in olden times had difficulties with forgiveness, I feel less unusual when I have difficulty forgiving. This is not an excuse, but it is an acknowledgment that this is a normal human difficulty, even among those who believe.


Secondly, I am comforted to know that the Lord is aware of my situation, no matter what it is. If I am hurt by an offense, whether intentionally or accidentally, He knows. His Atonement can heal. In fact, the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the only power which can heal a wounded heart. No action from another person, even apologies and restitution from an offender, can make the offended forgive. Forgiveness is a gift of God, and we must seek it or we will continue to carry “the greater sin.”


Elder David A. Bednar, a modern Apostle of Jesus Christ, gave an address about the topic of offense. He said:


One of the greatest indicators of our own spiritual maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others. A thing, an event, or an expression may be offensive, but you and I can choose not to be offended — and to say . . . ‘it mattereth not'” (David A. Bednar, “And Nothing Shall Offend Them,” October 2006).


jesus christ mormonI am grateful for the forgiveness I receive from Jesus Christ and for the gift He has given me to forgive others at certain difficult times in my life. I am also grateful for a sweet little children’s song that effectively puts me back in my place when I struggle to forgive.


MP3 of “Help Me, Dear Father”


This article was originally published in January 2008. Minor changes have been made.

About Nathan H

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