14 For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you;
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
(3 Nephi 13:14-15)
There are many good reasons to forgive other people. Here’s a simple one: because it’s in our own self-interest to do so. As the Savior teaches us in the passage above, we will only be forgiven to the degree that we are willing to forgive other people.
Why would our Heavenly Father withhold forgiveness from us when we fail to forgive others? Elder Quentin L. Cook provided an explanation in our most recent General Conference:
Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, through repentance our sins are forgiven. When we do not forgive those who trespass against us, we are in effect rejecting the Savior’s Atonement. Holding a grudge and refusing to forgive and refusing to humbly approach our relationships in a Christlike manner truly brings us under condemnation (“The Eternal Everyday,” General Conference, October 2017).
The Atonement is a gift that has been freely given and which we must choose to receive. It can change our hearts and make us holy, but only if we are willing to open our hearts to receive its blessings. As Elder Cook points out, failing to forgive others is effectively denying the power of the Atonement. If we can’t open our hearts to the possibility that other people can be changed and forgiven by the power of the Atonement, then our hearts are not in a position to receive that same healing power for ourselves.
Today, I will choose to forgive, knowing that forgiving others is an essential part of accepting the Savior’s Atonement and obtaining forgiveness for my own sins.