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How Can I Forgive Others?

It’s not easy, but when we forgive, our burdens are lifted and we feel greater peace.

Jesus taught us to forgive

When Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount, He reminded the people of the way things had been under the law of Moses—“An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” (see Matthew 5:38). He then taught the higher law of forgiveness to turn the other cheek and “Love your enemies” (see Matthew 5:39–44).

Forgiveness makes us free

Holding onto hurt feelings is a constant reminder to be upset. Unresolved conflicts take up way too much space in our minds. We lose sleep over them, and if we’re not careful, we can allow them to damage our other relationships.

Withholding forgiveness is a drain on our energy that could be better used to serve others and enrich our own lives. The Book of Mormon teaches that “men are, that they might have joy” (see 2 Nephi 2:25). How can we have joy when we are focused on feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness, and revenge?

Learn about forgiveness in the Book of Mormon

When we choose to forgive, we allow the Holy Spirit to enter our hearts. Happiness is a choice. It does not depend on the actions of others, nor on justice being served. Forgiveness makes us free.

Forgiving someone is easier said than done, especially if the wrongdoing is severe. Sometimes, it feels like forgiveness is impossible. But if we rely on the Savior, who suffered not only for our sins, but for theirs as well, we can find strength beyond our own. Pray for power to forgive and Jesus will help you. Elder Kevin R. Duncan, a Church leader, said, “Even though we may be a victim once, we need not be a victim twice by carrying the burden of hate, bitterness, pain, [and] resentment.”

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Forgiveness: My Burden Was Made Light
8:24

Forgiveness and the power of Jesus Christ enabled Chris to survive losing his wife and several children in a car accident—and allow the offending driver to begin rebuilding his own life.

Forgiveness is different than trust

Once you forgive someone, it may still take a long time for you to trust them again. That’s okay. For example, you could forgive someone who stole from you, but that doesn’t mean you leave the door unlocked. Likewise, someone who has been in an abusive relationship can forgive the abuser without entering into that relationship again. We should forgive everyone. But use wisdom in deciding to trust someone again.

The ultimate example of forgiveness

When we find it difficult to forgive, we can look to the example of Jesus Christ. Even as He hung on the cross, with nails through His hands and feet, He cried out to God, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). We may not have the ability to forgive on our own, but Jesus suffered for our “pains and afflictions” (see Alma 7:11) so that He would know how to help us. Through His grace, we can not only be forgiven, but we can also have the strength to forgive others.

Stories and verses about forgiving others

The Bible and the Book of Mormon have many inspiring stories about forgiveness. As you read through these examples, consider how you can better follow the Savior’s instruction to forgive others.

Forgiveness in the Bible: The Prodigal Son

The son wasted his money

A man had two sons. The youngest demanded his inheritance. Then he left the country and “wasted his substance with riotous living” (see Luke 15:13)

He had no food

A famine came upon the land and the son had no money to buy food. He took a job feeding pigs and was so hungry he would have eaten the pig food. (see Luke 15:14-16)

He decided to return home

Then he started thinking about his dad’s servants and how they had plenty of food. He decided to go apologize and tell his father he was “no more worth to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants” (Luke 15:19)

His father forgave him

“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).

His older brother got jealous

The father dressed his son in fine clothes and held a feast for him with the best food. The older son came home from work and heard the music and dancing. He became jealous and refused to go into the house. (see Luke 15:22-28)

His brother started complaining

The father came outside and spoke to his oldest son. The son questioned why he had never gotten a feast when he had been righteous and responsible the whole time.

The father taught a valuable lesson

The father replied that the older son was always with him, and “all that I have is thine” (see Luke 15:31). He said they should be glad, “for this thy brother was dead, and is live again; and was lost, and is found” (see Luke 15:32).

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How does this story apply today?

We can forgive those that have offended or hurt us, even if it doesn’t seem fair. God will make it right, and if we are faithful, we can receive all that He has.

A Story of Forgiveness in the Book of the Mormon

Moroni had a problem

Moroni was a captain. His army did not have enough soldiers to defend the cities they had recaptured from their enemies.

He asked Pahoran for help

Moroni sent a letter to the governor Pahoran “desiring that he should cause men to be gathered together to strengthen…the armies” (dee Alma 59:3) so they could maintain those cities they had retaken.

Help never came

However, help was never sent, and one of the cities was attacked. The city fell. “Moroni was angry with the government, because of their indifference concerning the freedom of their country” (see Alma 59:13).

Moroni got angry at Pahoran

Moroni wrote another letter to Pahoran, the governor, accusing him of being lazy, power-hungry, and only caring for his own safety. He even threatened to march against Pahoran and “smite [him] with the sword” (see Alma 60:30) if he did not send assistance.

His accusations were false

What Moroni did not know was that Pahoran was dealing with a rebellion and had been forced to flee the capital city. He replied to Moroni’s letter, saying “I do not joy in your great afflictions, yea, it grieves my soul” (Alma 61:2).

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Pahoran chose to forgive him

Even though Pahoran was accused falsely, he did not get offended. He said, “you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart” (see Alma 61:9). He then asked for Moroni’s help fighting the rebellion.

If you have questions about forgiveness, we encourage you to speak with our missionaries. They can teach you more about the grace of Jesus and help you learn to let go of grudges and anger. Remember to rely on the Savior, and your life will fill with peace and happiness.

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