Monday, June 25, 2007

My Deep Dark Secret...the Greater greater sin.

In Relief Society a few Sundays ago the lesson was Forgiving Others with All Our Hearts from the Spencer W. Kimball manual. We talked quite a bit about the statement found in D&C 64:9 that says "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." And from that we discussed how people often don't realize that they have offended us so when we don't forgive them it only hurts US.

But that got me to thinking, if it only hurts us then why exactly does that make it the 'greater sin'? I think the main interpretation of 'greater sin' is that no matter what anyone else has done to you, your sin is worse if you don't forgive them for it. But I had a thought about what I consider the 'greater greater sin' in my life. It has always been super easy for me to forgive and forget...until I got married! Things that used to roll off my back now get right under my skin and there are times (much more than I'd like) that I find it hard to forgive and forget. Here's where my deep dark secret comes in, a secret that I'm extremely embarrassed to admit. I have come to realize that sometimes I get so annoyed that I don't want to forgive because I want to use my forgiveness as some kind of leverage.

This is a completely new and foreign urge for me and now that I have recognized it in myself it troubles me quite a bit. To me this is my 'greater greater sin'. If I don't forgive someone who doesn't know that they have hurt me I am only hurting myself and committing the 'greater sin' by harboring bad feelings. But if I refuse to forgive someone who IS seeking forgiveness...well, that's just cruel and in my book that's the GREATER greater sin.


Dave said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences on forgiveness, especially the “greater, greater sin.” I think we all commit this sin to some degree.

I have recently had need to reevaluate my ability to forgive, and that verse in D&C section 64 has haunted me. I wondered why my sin would be greater if I didn’t forgive.

I think the next verse carries the hint as to why the greater sin is the unforgiving heart. It reads, “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but for you it is required to forgive all men.”

The hint in this verse is that the Savior and Heavenly Father have the power and authority to judge who is worthy of forgiveness (who has repented, or changed the way they see things) because Jesus suffered for our sins, he paid the price for our sins. By purchasing us with his blood, he then has the right to decide if our forgiveness is warranted, and to command us to forgive unconditionally.

By not forgiving, whether the person asked for forgiveness or not, we deny the atonement. We deny Christ’s sufferings for that person’s sins, and we more or less throw the Savior’s atonement back in his face.

Then to add insult to injury, we demand his suffering for us be valid by begging forgiveness for our own sins.

Using forgiveness as a tool to get revenge is taking that a step further as you point out. But it is self-destructive. I think Carrie Fisher (actress who played Princess Leia) summed it up best, “resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

The worst situation though I believe, is when we don’t forgive ourselves. “Come let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18

Best of luck to you!


Mikel said...

Thank you for that extremely thoughtful and helpful input. I think it is so important to think about the added dimension of the attonement.
“By not forgiving, whether the person asked for forgiveness or not, we deny the atonement. We deny Christ’s sufferings for that person’s sins”
I think that is exactly right.