Theoquest | 21 Steps: Step 6

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Step 6: Asking Others' Forgiveness

Without consideration of the emotional or financial cost involved, we asked forgiveness of all those we have wronged and did our best to make full amends to each of them, except where to have done so might have further injured them.

Only seldom is it enough to admit to a trusted friend or counselor, or even to God himself, that we have harmed someone, and stop there. Almost always, we must approach the person we wronged, acknowledge what we did, tell him how sorry we are, and try to set the situation right–return him to his prior position. Unless we rectify the situation to the extent of our power to do so, we deceive ourselves in imagining our repentance to be genuine. To ask God’s forgiveness and stop there is to ignore the very real consequences of our regrettable actions–the stolen money, the malicious injury to another’s reputation, whatever harm we caused. This material world exists in an unbroken continuum with the spiritual world; therefore, our actions must validate the spiritual estate to which we aspire. Our heavenly profession is less than sincere if we neglect or avoid our earthly obligations to the brothers we have harmed.

In some situations, however, apologizing and making amends is likely to only worsen matters. A husband or wife confessing to infidelity might sear his spouse’s memory with images that render continuance in the marriage difficult or impossible, and where felonies have been committed, legal counsel may be appropriate. With God’s help, however, all such wrongs can be dealt with in a fair and fitting way, one which will produce the greatest good and spiritual freedom, regardless of the earthly consequences which normally follow in the train of unfortunate actions.

The spiritual effort involved in making amends never fails to produce immediate rewards. As we shuck off old fears, exhaustively confront, and finally disown and forget the evils of our pasts, hitherto unknown liberty sweeps down from above. The fetters of past sin lose their hold and we become spiritually and emotionally free from all that has bound us and able to move confidently into the future. Past mistakes cease to threaten us, because they no longer pertain to our real selves, only what we used to be. God transforms us; our pasts are laid to rest as we move boldly into our new lives in the kingdom.

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But Cain knew that, since he bore no tribal mark, he would be killed by the first neighboring tribesmen who might chance to meet him. Fear, and some remorse, led him to repent. Cain had never been indwelt by an Adjuster, had always been defiant of the family discipline and disdainful of his father's religion. But he now went to Eve, his mother, and asked for spiritual help and guidance, and when he honestly sought divine assistance, an Adjuster indwelt him. 76:2.8

"We crave forgiveness from the Lord for all of our trespasses against our fellows; and we would release our friend from the wrong he has done us." 131:4.5

"When you find yourself in the wrong, do not hesitate to confess your error and be quick to make amends." 131:9.3

"No mortal who knows God and seeks to do the divine will can stoop to engage in the oppressions of wealth. . . . All such wealth should be restored to those who have thus been robbed or to their children and their children's children." 132:5.8

"If any portion of your fortune has been knowingly derived from fraud; if aught of your wealth has been accumulated by dishonest practices or unfair methods; if your riches are the product of unjust dealings with your fellows, make haste to restore all these ill-gotten gains to the rightful owners. Make full amends and thus cleanse your fortune of all dishonest riches." 132:5.12

"And whatever it shall cost you in the things of the world, no matter what price you may pay to enter the kingdom of heaven, you shall receive manyfold more of joy and spiritual progress in this world, and in the age to come eternal life." 137:8.14

"And after they had thus met, the son looked up into his father's tearful face and said: 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called a son'--but the lad did not find opportunity to complete his confession because the overjoyed father said to the servants who had by this time come running up: 'Bring quickly his best robe, the one I saved, and put it on him and put the son's ring on his hand and fetch sandals for his feet.'" 169:1.9

Then Zaccheus stood upon a stool and said: "Men of Jericho, hear me! I may be a publican and a sinner, but the great Teacher has come to abide in my house; and before he goes in, I tell you that I am going to bestow one half of all my goods upon the poor, and beginning tomorrow, if I have wrongfully exacted aught from any man, I will restore fourfold. I am going to seek salvation with all my heart and learn to do righteousness in the sight of God." 171:6.2

"You should learn that the expression of even a good thought must be modulated in accordance with the intellectual status and spiritual development of the hearer." 181:2.21

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