Similar to forgiveness comes the word forbear. If you check the footnotes for Matthew 18:21-22, you will find a suggestion to check the Topical Guide for this intriguing word. I have to confess that, despite being well-read, I had only a tentative grasp on the word. With that in mind, I checked the dictionary, where I found several definitions of the word. The one that seemed to best suit our discussion was “to be tolerant or patient in the face of provocation.”
As I went through the TG, I found that most of the scriptures related well to forgiveness, at least indirectly. But these scriptures were not all found in the teachings of Christ. The first place I checked was Leviticus 19, we read that we should not bear a grudge against our brother. We are not told what to do instead, simply not to hold a grudge.
A grudge can be a difficult burden to carry. In most cases, the lingering resentment that burrows in our hearts hurts us far more than the person we are angry with. Elder Bednar noted in his talk that those who went inactive due to offenses kept themselves from the blessings of church attendance. As I studied the scriptures further, however, I came to realize that these were not the only blessings we forfeit in our anger.
In D&C 98, we are told that if we bear our provocation patiently, we will be rewarded. Each time we are smitten and bear it, our blessings increase. While we may receive temporal blessings, I think that most of the reward we receive is spiritual. As we put off the natural man, as we step away from anger, hatred, and resentment, we move closer to our Savior. We cultivate a Christlike attitude. We draw the Holy Ghost further into our heart.
On the other hand, if we maintain an easily offended spirit, we will become angry and bitter. We know that contention comes from Satan, and so puts off the Holy Ghost. Thus, in our animosity, we forfeit the companionship of the Spirit on a more frequent basis. We push ourselves away from our Savior. We choose instead to draw closer to Satan and his treacherous persuasions.
Finally, as we maintain a spirit of anger and judgment, we bring that same judgment upon our own heads. As we judge others, so shall we be judged. In the first few verses of Romans 2, Paul asks if we doubt that God will judge others for their actions. He will judge fairly, without anger, rage, or animosity that we might carry. Paul then notes that God’s goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering lead us to repentance. I wonder, then, if similar attitudes in us might lead others to repentance. As they see the Christlike love and charity we cultivate in the face of persecution and provocation, they cannot fail to note, in some form or fashion, the spirit of Christ in our hearts. Without lectures or recriminations, we may well help them repent and draw closer to their Savior, even as Christ served us with his divine example.
As we bear our offenses, we must be loving, forgiving, and patient. These things will bring us closer to Christ and help us carry the Holy Ghost in our hearts. The spiritual blessings will quickly outweigh the pain of a few hurt feelings.