…VAN EEN VERNUFTIGE MAKELIJ…
(1 Nephi 18:1)
One person being offended from actions by another person seems to occur often in the church. I have known offended people in my home Stake and understand it occurs here in the mission field as well. Taking offense is a human frailty and is understandable; however, the truth is, nobody has the power to make someone else feel offended. “Offended” feelings are always a choice that someone chooses to have. Why does one choose to be offended? Usually the pay off for being offended is a license for the offendee to punish the offender with a broad spectrum of retaliation from the silent treatment to criticizing to getting even.
The Lord has expressed many times the requirement of forgiving others their trespasses. The Lord’s prayer includes the line, “…and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors…” (Matt. 6:12). Jesus said, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”(Mark 11:25). The doctrinal excerpts of forgiving others are endless. Essentially, we are expected to give people the benefit of doubt and forgive. We normally expect or hope to receive the same leniency when we make a mistake or offend someone. One reason it is so important to forgive is brilliantly expressed in the story of Abigail, Nabal and David in 1 Sam. 25.
Nabal was a great man with great possessions, but he was evil in his doings. Abigail was his wife. She was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance.
Now, Nabal’s men were shearing sheep in Carmel. David was on a military operation and was foraging the area in need of provisions. He sent 10 young men to Nabal to greet him in peace and ask for sustenance. The young men were to remind Nabal that David had on previous military operations, protected Nabal’s possessions and workers and, “neither was there ought missing unto them, all the while they were in Carmel.” David had been good to Nabal, his people were not hurt, nothing went missing and they were “a wall of protection” to Nabal “night and day all the while they were in Carmel.” They spoke to Nabal accordingly in the name of David.
Nabal was greedy, unappreciative and declined giving provisions. He answered, “Who is David?” He was unwilling to share of his excess and suggested he did not even know David. So the young men returned to David and told him what happened. David responded by ordering 400 men to take-up swords and follow him against Nabal. One of Nabal’s workers told Abigail of the messengers from David, that Nabal had railed against David, they could not speak to Nabal and reminded her that evil is now determined against Nabal and his entire household.
Abigail made hast. She took provisions to David and when she saw David, she fell before David, bowed herself to the ground and said, “Upon me, my lord, upon me let this inequity be…” She took upon herself the misdeeds of Nabal. Therefore, by this unselfish act it became as if Nabal had done nothing and Abigail had offended David. She then said, “I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid…”
The metaphor here of the Savior taking upon himself our trespasses is obvious. That she is now asking forgiveness from David underscores the natural result of one taking upon himself the responsibility for the consequences of the actions of another person.
When someone sins against you, the atonement has already paid the punishment for that sin. Christ has literally taken the sins of the world upon himself. Therefore, like Abigail, it is Christ who seeks your forgiveness not your neighbor who offended you. When you cannot forgive and plan to inflict punishment on he who offended, then you are really telling the Savior to go back to the garden and get back up on the cross because you think the suffering he went through during the atonement was not enough to satisfy you for this particular issue. You plan to dispense additional punishment until you think it is sufficiently paid.
This is one reason we are commanded to forgive.