While working on the zionsoutpost.org website early yesterday morning, the Lord taught me an important lesson about forgiveness by contrasting forgiveness with misery. The lesson went as follows: at the heart of unforgiveness is a desire for another person to be as miserable as we are miserable. This I was led to further understand is part of what it means to be devilish (as in “carnal, sensual, and devilish”). The Lord taught me this lesson by recalling to my mind the teaching of Lehi along with a description of the four sons of Mosiah.
From the brass plates Lehi learned that an angel of God had fallen from heaven and became the devil because “he sought that which was evil before God.” As a result of his fall, the devil became miserable forever and in turn “sought also the misery of all mankind.” (II Nephi 1:101-103) Completely opposite to what we read of the devil’s disposition and desire for mankind, we find in the record of the Nephites the following description of the sons of Mosiah:
“Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; Yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment, did cause them to quake and tremble. And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them, for they were the very vilest of sinners.” (Mosiah 12:5-7)
Although the sons of Mosiah had sinned and become “the very vilest of sinners,” they repented. Then, following their conversion, they could not stand the thought that any soul should endure endless torment. So they labored as instruments in God’s hands to bring the message of salvation to as many people as they were able, often laboring in the most difficult and hostile circumstances. As a result of their labors many souls were brought to repentance and saving faith in Jesus Christ.
In short, to be unwilling to forgive is to retain the devilish fallen nature of the old man. Like the fallen angel who became the devil, an unforgiving person seeks the misery of others, causing them to become defiled with the root of bitterness. Unlike the sons of Mosiah, an unforgiving heart can bear the thought of another human soul perishing and suffering eternal torment; in fact, it relishes the thought.
The question then is this, with whom do we want to spend eternity: 1) with a fallen angel who continually seeks our misery, or 2) with individuals like the sons of Mosiah who continually seek our eternal welfare? Which it will be comes down to forgiveness. Do we seek God’s forgiveness for our own sins and then seek to assist the Lord in bringing others out of misery and endless torment and into eternal life through the pure love of Christ?
May we follow the example set for us by Enos of old who, after receiving the testimony that his sins had been forgiven by faith in Jesus Christ, he sought the welfare of his people and then the welfare of his enemies.
You can read more about forgiveness and reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ on this site at: The Ministry of Reconciliation and elsewhere at “When you pray, do you pray as an advocate or as an accuser?” and Reflections on As We Forgive.