This story originally ran on LDS Living in July 2019.
The principle of forgiveness can be a difficult one to fully understand and obey. Knowing the blessings promised to those who do forgive, however, can be a powerful motivating force to do so. Here is a list of 10 beautiful blessings promised by general conference speakers to those who will forgive.
1. Tranquility to the Soul
From Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's "The Ministry of Reconciliation":
"My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify that forgiving and forsaking offenses, old or new, is central to the grandeur of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I testify that ultimately such spiritual repair can come only from our divine Redeemer, He who rushes to our aid 'with healing in his wings.' We thank Him, and our Heavenly Father who sent Him, that renewal and rebirth, a future free from old sorrows and past mistakes, are not only possible, but they have already been purchased, paid for, at an excruciating cost symbolized by the blood of the Lamb who shed it.
"With the apostolic authority granted me by the Savior of the world, I testify of the tranquility to the soul that reconciliation with God and each other will bring if we are meek and courageous enough to pursue it. 'Cease to contend one with another,' the Savior pled. If you know of an old injury, repair it. Care for one another in love."
2. An Increased Capacity to Love
From Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf's "The Merciful Obtain Mercy":
"Forgiving ourselves and others is not easy. In fact, for most of us it requires a major change in our attitude and way of thinking—even a change of heart. But there is good news. This 'mighty change' of heart is exactly what the gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to bring into our lives.
"How is it done? Through the love of God.
"When our hearts are filled with the love of God, something good and pure happens to us. We 'keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.'
"The more we allow the love of God to govern our minds and emotions—the more we allow our love for our Heavenly Father to swell within our hearts—the easier it is to love others with the pure love of Christ. As we open our hearts to the glowing dawn of the love of God, the darkness and cold of animosity and envy will eventually fade."
3. A Nobler, More Courageous Soul
From Elder Uchtdorf's "Is There a Point of No Return":
"Jesus taught us eternal truth when He taught us to pray: 'Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. … For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not … neither will your Father forgive your trespasses' (3 Nephi 13:11, 14–15).
"Therefore, extending forgiveness is a precondition to receiving forgiveness.
"For our own good, we need the moral courage to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. Never is the soul nobler and more courageous than when we forgive. This includes forgiving ourselves."
4. A Peace That Is Otherwise Unattainable
From President Gordon B. Hinckley's "Of You It Is Required to Forgive":
"If there be any who nurture in their hearts the poisonous brew of enmity toward another, I plead with you to ask the Lord for strength to forgive. This expression of desire will be of the very substance of your repentance. It may not be easy, and it may not come quickly. But if you will seek it with sincerity and cultivate it, it will come. And even though he whom you have forgiven continues to pursue and threaten you, you will know you have done what you could to effect a reconciliation. There will come into your heart a peace otherwise unattainable. That peace will be the peace of Him who said:
'For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
'But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.'"
5. Greater Self-Esteem
From President James E. Faust's "The Healing Power of Forgiveness":
"If we can find forgiveness in our hearts for those who have caused us hurt and injury, we will rise to a higher level of self-esteem and well-being. Some recent studies show that people who are taught to forgive become 'less angry, more hopeful, less depressed, less anxious and less stressed,' which leads to greater physical well-being. Another of these studies concludes 'that forgiveness … is a liberating gift [that] people can give to themselves.'"
6. Healing for the Wounded Soul
From Elder Kevin R. Duncan's "The Healing Ointment of Forgiveness":
"Many years ago, while I was mending a fence, a small sliver of wood entered into my finger. I made a meager attempt to remove the sliver and thought I had done so, but apparently, I had not. As time went on, skin grew over the sliver, creating a lump on my finger. It was annoying and sometimes painful.
"Years later I decided to finally take action. All I did was simply apply ointment to the lump and cover it with a bandage. I repeated this process frequently. You cannot imagine my surprise when one day, as I removed the bandage, the sliver had emerged from my finger.
"The ointment had softened the skin and created an escape for the very thing that had caused pain for so many years. Once the sliver was removed, the finger quickly healed, and to this day, there remains no evidence of any injury.
"In a similar way, an unforgiving heart harbors so much needless pain. When we apply the healing ointment of the Savior’s Atonement, He will soften our heart and help us to change. He can heal the wounded soul (see Jacob 2:8)."
7. The Problems of the Past Will Stop Dictating the Future
From Elder David E. Sorensen's "Forgiveness Will Change Bitterness to Love":
"When someone has hurt us or those we care about, that pain can almost be overwhelming. It can feel as if the pain or the injustice is the most important thing in the world and that we have no choice but to seek vengeance. But Christ, the Prince of Peace, teaches us a better way. It can be very difficult to forgive someone the harm they’ve done us, but when we do, we open ourselves up to a better future. No longer does someone else’s wrongdoing control our course. When we forgive others, it frees us to choose how we will live our own lives. Forgiveness means that problems of the past no longer dictate our destinies, and we can focus on the future with God’s love in our hearts."
8. The Savior's Power to Help You
From Elder Timothy J. Dyches's "Wilt Thou Be Made Whole?":
"Corrie ten Boom, a devout Dutch Christian woman, found such healing despite having been interned in concentration camps during World War II. She suffered greatly, but unlike her beloved sister Betsie, who perished in one of the camps, Corrie survived.
"After the war she often spoke publicly of her experiences and of healing and forgiveness. On one occasion a former Nazi guard who had been part of Corrie’s own grievous confinement in Ravensbrück, Germany, approached her, rejoicing at her message of Christ’s forgiveness and love.
"'How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,' he said. 'To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!'
"'His hand was thrust out to shake mine,' Corrie recalled. 'And I, who had preached so often … the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
"'Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. … Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
"'I tried to smile, [and] I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
"'As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
"'And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.'
"Corrie ten Boom was made whole."
9. A Partnership with the Savior
From Elder Larry J. Echo Hawk's "Even as Christ Forgives You, So Also Do Ye":
"We can all receive unspeakable peace and partnering with our Savior as we learn to freely forgive those who have trespassed against us. This partnering brings the Savior’s power into our lives in an unmistakable and never-to-be-forgotten way."
10. A Sweeping Away of Guilt
From Elder Anthony D. Perkins' "The Great and Wonderful Love":
"To forgive yourself and others, you must trust the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The prophet Zenock prayed, 'Thou art angry, O Lord, with this people, because they will not understand thy mercies which thou hast bestowed upon them because of thy Son.' Our Father in Heaven is saddened when we limit the power of His Son’s atoning sacrifice. As you exercise faith in Jesus Christ, you can have your guilt 'swept away.' If guilt remains after sincere repentance, believe your priesthood leaders when they declare you to be worthy."
Lead image courtesy of Getty Images.
Find more on forgiveness in Elder Neil L. Andersen's new book, The Divine Gift of Forgiveness. In this book, Elder Andersen writes especially to those who are "awakening" unto God—those who are just beginning to discover or who seek the divine gifts and power of repentance and forgiveness in their lives. Filled with powerful doctrine along with stories and experiences, this book will help all readers become more devoted disciples of the Savior. Available now at DeseretBook.com.