Family Home Evening Material: Forgiveness

The following are several items that you can use to supplement a family home evening lesson on forgiveness. Prayerfully take into consideration those who are teaching, and choose the material that best suits their needs.

Hymn: #273, Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses (Sing Along: )


  • D&C 64:9–10 –“I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men”
  • John 8:6–11-Woman taken in adultery
  • Luke 15:14–21– Parable of the prodigal son
  • Matt. 5:38–44-The Savior’s teaching about forgiveness from the Sermon on the Mount

Lesson: Read the following two stories from President Monson’s talk, Hidden Wedges (April 2002). Use the following questions for discussion:

  • How Leonard respond to the offense toward his family?
  • What  blessings did Leonard miss out on because he didn’t forgive?
  • How is his experience different from the family from Germany?
  • How could they have reacted to the bishop who forgot the funeral?

First Story: “His name was Leonard. He was not a member of the Church, although his wife and children were. His wife served as a Primary president; his son served an honorable mission. His daughter and his son married companions in solemn ceremonies and had families of their own.

“Everyone who knew Leonard liked him, as did I. He supported his wife and children in their Church assignments. He attended many Church-sponsored events with them. He lived a good and a clean life, even a life of service and kindness. His family, and indeed many others, wondered why Leonard had gone through mortality without the blessings the gospel brings to its members.

“In Leonard’s advanced years, his health declined. Eventually he was hospitalized, and life was ebbing away. In what turned out to be my last conversation with Leonard, he said, “Tom, I’ve known you since you were a boy. I feel persuaded to explain to you why I have never joined the Church.” He then related an experience of his parents which took place many, many years before. Reluctantly, the family had reached a point where they felt it was necessary to sell their farm, and an offer had been received. Then a neighboring farmer asked that the farm be sold to him instead—although at a lesser price—adding, “We’ve been such close friends. This way, if I own the property, I’ll be able to watch over it.” At length Leonard’s parents agreed, and the farm was sold. The buyer—even the neighbor—held a responsible position in the Church, and the trust this implied helped to persuade the family to sell to him, even though they did not realize as much money from the sale as they would have if they had sold to the first interested buyer. Not long after the sale was made, the neighbor sold both his own farm and the farm acquired from Leonard’s family in a combined parcel which maximized the value and hence the selling price. The long-asked question of why Leonard had never joined the Church had been answered. He always felt that his family had been deceived by the neighbor.”

Second Story: “I am acquainted with a family which came to America from Germany. The English language was difficult for them. They had but little by way of means, but each was blessed with the will to work and with a love of God.

“Their third child was born, lived but two months, and then died. Father was a cabinetmaker and fashioned a beautiful casket for the body of his precious child. The day of the funeral was gloomy, thus reflecting the sadness they felt in their loss. As the family walked to the chapel, with Father carrying the tiny casket, a small number of friends had gathered. However, the chapel door was locked. The busy bishop had forgotten the funeral. Attempts to reach him were futile. Not knowing what to do, the father placed the casket under his arm and, with his family beside him, carried it home, walking in a drenching rain.”

Share the following story from President Hinckley’s talk, Forgiveness, (Oct. 2005)

“A time back, I clipped a column from the Deseret Morning News, written by Jay Evensen. With his permission, I quote from a part of it. Wrote he:

‘How would you feel toward a teenager who decided to toss a 20-pound frozen turkey from a speeding car headlong into the windshield of the car you were driving? How would you feel after enduring six hours of surgery using metal plates and other hardware to piece your face together, and after learning you still face years of therapy before returning to normal—and that you ought to feel lucky you didn’t die or suffer permanent brain damage?

‘And how would you feel after learning that your assailant and his buddies had the turkey in the first place because they had stolen a credit card and gone on a senseless shopping spree, just for kicks? …

‘This is the kind of hideous crime that propels politicians to office on promises of getting tough on crime. It’s the kind of thing that prompts legislators to climb all over each other in a struggle to be the first to introduce a bill that would add enhanced penalties for the use of frozen fowl in the commission of a crime.

‘The New York Times quoted the district attorney as saying this is the sort of crime for which victims feel no punishment is harsh enough. ‘Death doesn’t even satisfy them,’ he said.

‘Which is what makes what really happened so unusual. The victim, Victoria Ruvolo, a 44-year-old former manager of a collections agency, was more interested in salvaging the life of her 19-year-old assailant, Ryan Cushing, than in exacting any sort of revenge. She pestered prosecutors for information about him, his life, how he was raised, etc. Then she insisted on offering him a plea deal. Cushing could serve six months in the county jail and be on probation for 5 years if he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault.

‘Had he been convicted of first-degree assault—the charge most fitting for the crime—he could have served 25 years in prison, finally thrown back into society as a middle-aged man with no skills or prospects.

‘But this is only half the story. The rest of it, what happened the day this all played out in court, is the truly remarkable part.

‘According to an account in the New York Post, Cushing carefully and tentatively made his way to where Ruvolo sat in the courtroom and tearfully whispered an apology. “I’m so sorry for what I did to you.”

‘Ruvolo then stood, and the victim and her assailant embraced, weeping. She stroked his head and patted his back as he sobbed, and witnesses, including a Times reporter, heard her say, ‘It’s OK. I just want you to make your life the best it can be.’ According to accounts, hardened prosecutors, and even reporters, were choking back tears” (“Forgiveness Has Power to Change Future,” Deseret Morning News, Aug. 21, 2005, p. AA3).

“What a great story that is, greater because it actually happened, and that it happened in tough old New York. Who can feel anything but admiration for this woman who forgave the young man who might have taken her life?”

MormonMessages Video:

Share your testimony of forgiveness.

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