No one has ever tried to kill me. At least not that I am aware of. I have not been beaten, abused, or raped. No one has firebombed my house or business. None of my family members have been killed or abused. No one has ruined me financially. Nobody has dragged my name through the mud and publicly humiliated me. I have not been the recipient of such evil.
But I know that there are some of you reading this right now who have been.
Over the past few weeks we have been studying the Atonement in Sunday School, and as it usually does, it has given me much time for reflection. Last night, as I was preparing, a very specific thought came to me:
“What is the absolute worst thing anyone has ever done to me?”
I ask you the same question. For me, I honestly can’t think of too many terrible things that have been done to me in my life. Lots of small things, many petty things, but nothing of the order I described above.
As to what I have received, it would seem that I have been greatly blessed and protected. My trials have been more of a “Death by a thousand paper cuts” variety.
On the other side of the coin, I have never tried to kill anyone, or any of the other things I mentioned. My sins, like the offenses I’ve received, are also more of the “Death by a thousand papercuts variety.”
Thankfully, I know that Christ has already paid for my sins. Every little or giant sin of omission, and every small or large sin of commission. Every small thought-sin, every large thought sin. Any sin I have committed has already been atoned for. Christ paid the price for them long ago.
But what about the people that have sinned against you, or me? As I mentioned, I have not been on the receiving end of any horrific sin or affront., but I know many that have been.
What about those sins and those sinners? What becomes of them?
Christ paid for those sins too. Already. Whether the sinner cares or not. Whether the sinner even knows or not, the price has been paid. Justice’s demands have been met. Already. That part is over.
So the terms have already been set between the sinner and the Savior. Where do I, the victim, fit into this?
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.
A simple concept, but difficult to absorb, and even more difficult to embrace:
If I refuse to forgive another, I have no claim on the Atonement. Beyond that, I deny another the very mercy, the very Atonement that I am counting on.
Why? Because I am not involved in another man’s claim on the Atonement. It is between the sinner and the Savior. For all I know, they have already come to terms regarding the offense.
But by not being able/willing to forgive those who offend me, I am releasing my claim on what the Atonement can do for me.
The Atonement is wasted on me.
You might remember that I have discussed this concept before, using Tarzan as my example of how an unforgiving heart can damn us. I think the topic deserves frequent visits.
Yesterday, I spend part of my evening watching YouTube videos of people who have had horrific things happen to them, murders, accidental kills, etc. who found within their hearts to forgive. Here are a two:
Perhaps the best story in recent years comes was related by President James E’ Faust in General Conference. He told the story of a group of Amish Schoolgirls who were gunned down by a mass-murderer. Here is the story as he told it: (Link to the full talk HERE)
How petty are my grievances! How tiny the offenses I stew about. How insulting to the Savior is my hesitancy to forgive, to render His magnificent gift to me as wasted.