Is being forgiven of sin the same as being worthy?

Is being forgiven of sin the same as being worthy?

Question

 

Dear Gramps,

Is being forgiven from sin the same as being worthy?  If so, then everyone stepping out of the baptismal font should be worthy of everything.  If not, then how can you be unworthy of some blessing and still be sin free?  Help me understand.

Robert

 

Answer

 

Hi Robert,

Forgiveness implies spotlessness and lack of blame before God. For example, little children are blameless. Being forgiven puts you in the same class with little children. In casual conversation, we often use the term “worthy” as a synonym for this idea of spiritual cleanness, but “worthy” actually means much more.

In addition to blamelessness, being worthy also means that you have developed the necessary characteristics to allow you to do something. For example, a ten-year-old might repent, be forgiven, and therefore be blameless, but we wouldn’t call him on a mission or ask him to be the bishop of a ward. He may be spotless, but he is not capable of assuming such responsibility. We generally would not refer to a ten-year-old as “unworthy” of such a calling, but we immediately recognize the problem.  The same for an adult newly baptized. They are sinless coming out of the waters of baptism but not yet eligible (due to policy) for temple attendance other than baptisms for the dead.

As another example, consider Eve, who was created as a “help meet” for Adam. The word “meet” means “fitting” or “worthy;” thus, Eve was made to be a help (or aide) who was fitting or worthy to be with Adam. Another might have been created as a companion for Adam; for example, a child, or another man. But such a being would not have been fitted for Adam, and thus not a worthy companion. Adam required the companionship of an adult woman; only such a person was a worthy companion for Adam.

 

Gramps

 

 

How can I learn to love my enemies?

How can I learn to love my enemies?

Question

Dear Gramps,
I have been struggling with this one for a long time.  I don’t have the ability to love my enemies, those who want to hurt me or my family and country.  I want to obey the Lord but its not in my heart to love people who want to hurt me or my family, evil politicians and people who want to destroy the USA as in 9/11.  Any thoughts?

Regards,

Michael

 

Answer

Michael,

I want to categorically correct something you have said. You DO have the ability to love your enemies. So let’s talk about that a bit.

The idea that one cannot help who they love is strictly contrary to the idea of agency. To love one another is a commandment. God will not give commandment unto the children of men save He shall prepare a way that they may accomplish the thing commanded (1 Nephi 3:7). He also commanded us to love our enemies. So a claim that we cannot is simply false. The Lord will prepare a way if we are only willing to do as He asks.

So let’s talk about obedience a bit.

Before getting into that, I want to let you know that I have struggled with similar issues you are bringing up here. Often we are taught in church to love our neighbors, and I think to myself, “How?” Sometimes our neighbors are not very lovable. Sometimes the guy next door is our actual enemy.

But then I recall what my mother taught me in my youth. “If you want to love someone,” she said, “Serve them.”

A lot of times when we’re taught to love, it is from the perspective that if we do we will serve better. “Love your neighbors so you will do your hometeaching.” I cannot help but wonder if that is not somewhat backwards. Maybe it should be, “Do your home teaching, so you will love your neighbors.” But, really, I think it’s both.

Love is a choice.

What? You mean I can choose whether to love someone or not?

Yes!

The world would have us believe it is not a choice. We cannot help who we love, they preach. We either do or do not, and there is no choice about it at all. They would imply there is no agency. Does that sound like anyone else you can think of? Someone who wanted to destroy our agency?

Satan’s plan was to destroy agency—to take away our choice, or to make our choices not matter. And the world at large is chanting his theme song. But we know better. We can choose.

Does that mean that we can force feelings that aren’t there? Well, as you have well pointed out, no…not directly in every case. But that is not really what love is. Not entirely. Obviously feelings of tenderness and compassion are part of it. But tenderness and compassion follow action and decision as much as the other way around. And loving someone is a matter of how we choose to interact with them and how we choose to treat them as much as how we really “feel”.

Take a parent, for example. Their child comes in and does something horrible, messy, annoying, or otherwise childish. Is the parent always going to respond by thinking, “how sweet.” No. Does that mean they don’t love their child? The automatic response will be frustration, disgust, anger, or other negative emotions, in many cases. We are all human, after all. And yet, the love of a good parent leads him/her to put aside the negative, replaced with responses that are patient, long-suffering, kind, tender, and loving. This is in spite of the natural man. How silly it would be to feel frustrated at one’s own petulant child and determine that it means we do not love them. Keep in mind, the fact that we love them does not mean that we do not punish them either.

By a parent choosing to act lovingly in spite of natural emotional reactions, the bond of love between the child and the parent grows. The parent loves the child more, the child loves the parent more, and both are increased and made better.

So it is with our neighbors, and even with our enemies. The fact that our neighbors annoy us sometimes is natural. The fact that evil men doing evil things angers us is natural. But, as we know, the natural man is an enemy to God. (Mosiah 3:19). Just as when our child does something wrong, we must put aside our natural tendencies and instead respond with characteristics of someone who loves. By so doing, we learn to love. We actually love them more. We practice love. And we show love for our Father in Heaven. (Mosiah 2:17)

But remember also that we learn line upon line:

2 Nephi 28:30

 “For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.”

Learning to love is a lifelong process. We cannot expect that today we do not love, and tomorrow, by simply choosing to do so, that our love will be perfect. Nor can we expect that our love will be perfect in this life.

We only get a taste of God’s perfect love in this life. We sample it by doing a small part of what is His work and His glory. But our imperfect, mortal frames are not capable of the fullness of His love. That is why God gave to us obedience.

Love is the what.

Eternal life is the why.

Obedience is the how.

The Savior set an example of obedience for us.

2 Nephi 31:7

 “But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.”

Thomas S. Monson also taught:

 “The Savior demonstrated genuine love of God by living the perfect life, by honoring the sacred mission that was His. Never was He haughty. Never was He puffed up with pride. Never was He disloyal. Ever was He humble. Ever was He sincere. Ever was He obedient.”

We learn in the Book of Abraham 3:24-25

 “And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

“And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;”

Prove us how? If we will do what we are commanded. In other words, will we obey?

So why is this the standard whereby we are proved. Why doesn’t this scripture say, “We will prove them herewith to see if they will love God and each other”?

Think on it.

Here’s an idea:

D&C 130:20-21

 “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

“And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” (emphasis mine)

We see these ideas consistently throughout the scriptures. For example, Mosiah 2:41

 “And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.”

Thomas S. Monson also said:

 “An attitude of love characterized the mission of the Master. He gave sight to the blind, legs to the lame, and life to the dead. Perhaps when we [face] our Maker, we will not be asked, ‘How many positions did you hold?’ but rather, ‘How many people did you help?’ In reality, you can never love the Lord until you serve Him by serving His people.”

I’m going to restate that last line, this time bolded:

“You can never love the Lord until you serve Him by serving His people.”

After quoting President Monson in the above link, Elder Oaks then taught, “Those who are caught up in trying to save their lives by seeking the praise of the world are actually rejecting the Savior’s teaching that the only way to save our eternal life is to love one another and lose our lives in service.”  (emphasis mine)

And M. Russell Ballard taught:

“The love the Savior described is an active love. It is not manifested through large and heroic deeds but rather through simple acts of kindness and service.” (emphasis mine)

President Monson also taught us that “Spiritual strength frequently comes through selfless service.”

Are you beginning to see a pattern to these teaching? In which manner do we obey so that we may learn love?

I wonder how the politics of the world might change if our nation’s leaders began their approach with this philosophy.

John 14:15:

 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

Herein is the key. The greatest commandment is to love God. And we do so by keeping His commandments.

We read in Mosiah 2:17

“And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”

Therein is the answer to your question. “How do I love my enemies?”

The answer is simple. You serve them.

Gramps

Do you think Kate Kelly should have been excommunicated?

Do you think Kate Kelly should have been excommunicated?

Question

Gramps,

In light of today’s news regarding Kate Kelly’s (Ordain Women) excommunication, do you think that it was too harsh?  I felt like she was only questioning and sharing her opinion.  What do you think?

Grace

 

Answer

Grace,

The news of anyone being excommunicated is always sad.  Now whether I should speculate as to whether the local leaders who had to make this tough decision were wrong or too harsh is not for me to say.  They are the ones that hold stewardship over her.  I don’t.  They are the ones that have the information that brought them to this decision. I’m sure this decision was not easy nor did they take it lightly and it was done with much prayer and fasting.

At the same time I can say this.  There is nothing wrong with questioning or having an opinion.  I think we have all questioned at one time or another. And we definitely all have opinions regarding something.  The bottom line of this issue was how it was carried out.  One should never recruit others to join your side in an issue that is contrary to the teachings of the gospel.  One should never cause others to have a shaking or wavering of faith because of this.  That’s where I think the real issue lies.

I wish her well and hope that she will one day be restored with all of the blessings of the gospel.

Gramps

How do you become a forgiving person even when there is pain?

How do you become a forgiving person even when there is pain?

Question

Gramps,

I have a friend who is a forgiving person, however, my friend keeps forgiving others while they take advantage of hurting my friend. I tried telling my friend to stand tall but my friend said, “No, I’m just a forgiving person”. I was left to myself and wondering why does the person accept getting hurt?  Does pain mean anything when being offended? Or does the person just let pain go by and forgive others easily? I find that weird… I also remember a quote saying “forgiveness is the hardest thing in all of the gospel principles” How do you move on with OR without pain Gramps?  Please teach me how.

Dallas

 

Answer

Dallas,

Thank you for your confidence in my ability to address your sincere question about forgiveness and pain. The ultimate teacher of forgiveness is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How did our Savior move forward “without [physical] pain”? The truthful answer, He didn’t, yet despite His pain and agony He forgave, remembering the greatest work we have upon the earth, and that is the Father’s work, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Source)

We learn from our prophets and apostles that forgiveness is “The Ultimate Form of Love.” Forgiveness, as an ultimate form of love, allows an individual to think upon the needs of others more than themselves as Marion D. Hanks reminds us,

“Christ’s love was so pure that he gave his life for us: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13.) But there was another gift he bestowed while he was on the cross, a gift that further measured the magnitude of his great love: he forgave, and asked his Father to forgive, those who persecuted and crucified him.”

The Lord’s Atonement is the prime example of forgiveness by which He endured tremendous physical pain in order to accomplish the Father’s will; however spiritually and mentally, when we truly forgive our brethren of their trespasses, we no longer feel mental anguish, or mental pain. We are able to move forward without anger and resentment, which in affect, we enter a state of mind spiritually without pain.

Although we are commanded by our Father in Heaven to forgive, we are not required to be walked over. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we put ourselves in the same pattern of harm. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we continue to allow our brethren to take advantage of our kindness when we full well have the opportunity to make sure it doesn’t happen again. An enabling spirit is not a forgiving spirit and we must be careful not to conflate these two principles. We are able to forgive without allowing ourselves again to endure physical or emotional pain. We can and we must protect ourselves and those we love.

I am reminded of the story provided in General Conference as given by President Hinckley who spoke about a story of a young Indian boy who picked up a snake full well knowing the nature of the snake,

“The boy cursed at the snake for striking him as an answer to his kindness. The snake replied, “You knew what I was when you picked me up” (“Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood,” Ensign, July 1989, 77).

Warn your children against those with poisonous fangs who will entice them, seduce them with easy talk, then injure and possibly destroy them.”

In my efforts to explain this last principle it appears from scripture their is a balance between forgiving and allowing ourselves to be in harms way, which is unavoidable, and through these times we must be patient.  In order to best understand this concept, I would recommend you read Mosiah 23-24.  Even in our best efforts to do good, we, like the people of Alma, may experience difficult trials of faith that try our patience, our faith, our love and our forgiveness.  How then did the people of Alma deal with their hurt and their pain?  The Lord bless you in your efforts to be Godlike, Dallas.

 

Gramps

 

 

What feelings should I have towards my mother?

What feelings should I have towards my mother?

Question

Dear Gramps, I am the only member of the Church in my family. My dad passed away more than 10 years ago. My mother is a “devout” Christian, a deacon in her church. She has been dating a man for more than 3 years now. I talked to her about marriage, chastity and virtue two years ago, Today they live together without being married. We had to move back home for a year and the man was playing the Master of the house in my dad’s house. He was decent and all, but the situation made me feel sick. I talked again to my mother a month after we arrived, but she told me that that is the way God wants her life to be for now. I couldn’t believe it and didn’t know what to say. After a year, still no marriage and I have become really affected by the situation. I am filled with sadness and anger. My kids no longer hear me sing.  As God’s answer to my prayer, we moved out and I do not feel like inviting my mother into our house to see us. I have lost trust in her, and we no longer have the same level of intimacy and confidence as before. I feel her boyfriend has dishonored her, disrespected our family and God. She seems so unconscious.  We are asked to forgive and I know I should forgive, but every time I think of her, I feel like crying. Is virtue and chastity only a Mormon thing? Was it too much to have hoped/expected her to re-marry? Are my feelings inappropriate and should I have respected her free-agency to live immorally?

Radinika

 

Answer

Radinika,

As I read your question, my mind’s eye reflects upon the words of the late Elder Orson F. Whitney, who served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire” (quoted in Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle [1972], 98).

As a new convert to the Church, your mind has been enlightened to new understandings because you have received the gift of the Holy Ghost. What may have not affected you so deeply then, now more easily brings sorrow to your heart. The balance of patience and love we are to find as Christians when loved ones are not following the commandments is not always easy to recognize; however, as members we must remember that we are here to “invite” all to come unto Christ and to keep his commandments without compulsory means. When we invite we must remember we are to be bold, but not overbearing less we lose the love within our hearts because of our personal passions (Alma).

As we look to our Savior for His example, and pray for guidance from the Lord, greater love will be shown to your mother when you “invite” her to live the commandments and then accept her agency to live by her own conscience. This will bring greater peace to your heart and mind; although inside, you may still feel angry that your mother isn’t willing to live up to the knowledge she has in keeping the law of chastity.

We live in a day and age where the commandments of God are easily forsaken by the many; however, Mormons are not the only Christians, or other faiths, which believe in keeping the law of chastity. We are not alone in this doctrine. We are not the only people who keep this law.

If I may, and I hope you receive my thoughts in the love I share them with, don’t allow the adversary to sway you away from your mother. Despite her weakness of the flesh at the moment, she loves you and you love her. Her example is a great opportunity for you to teach your children about the importance of keeping the law of chastity and loving those who don’t. Let your children recognize your love for her, while also recognizing that keeping this law of God is very important to our eternal salvation and exaltation.

 

Gramps

Doesn’t the atonement provide forgiveness for all sins in this world?

Doesn’t the atonement provide forgiveness for all sins in this world?

Question

Gramps,

I’m confused about D&C 84:41. It reads:

41 But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.

My question is: Doesn’t the atonement provide for forgiveness in this world of all sins? If a priesthood holder who broke the covenant, as stated in D&C, later repented and turned his heart to Christ. Would he not be forgiven of his sins through the atoning sacrifice of our savior Jesus Christ? I asked this question in Sunday School, only after our teacher iterated that their would be no forgiveness, and didn’t get much of an answer.

Any help is really appreciated.

Peter (more…)

How can I make amends for something I feel I did wrong?

How can I make amends for something I feel I did wrong?

Question

Dear Gramps,

For a few years I have been watching TV shows online without paying for them. At first I didn’t think about how it might be dishonest, but I am now convinced that it is wrong.  I have already decided not to do it anymore. But I do not know how I can make amends for what I have done.  Do you have any advice for me?

Holly (more…)

How can I accept someone with a past?

How can I accept someone with a past?

Question

Dear Gramps,

Hi.   I just recently returned from my mission. I have this girl which is a good friend of mine and is a member of the Church. I really like her and I’m comfortable with her.  Recently she told me that she had committed immorality when I was serving a mission. She said that she has already confessed it and has gone through the repentance process. She is now about to serve a mission. We are planning to be together after her mission. My mind has been thinking about how I could accept her even though she has done those things. Knowing you as a person of great wisdom, I wanted to seek advice from you.

Anonymous (more…)

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