Without breaking any confidences, years ago an individual came into my office at the meetinghouse and confessed that a very, very poor decision had been made. We talked. We wept. We prayed together. We worked together for a long time. To start, they were crushed. But, eventually this person started to feel peace replace the feelings of worry, discouragement, and unworthiness. In the middle of this process, this church member asked me why it was that they weren’t being excommunicated since the sin was quite a sin (as far as sin goes…)*. The answer was simple and was one of the first things I discerned as this person and I started the process of repentance.
This person wasn’t in rebellion.
When we’re struggling through mortality and not quite living up to what we know we can do and what our Heavenly Father expects us to do, it seems wise to check our hearts. Are we just thumbing our noses up at the heavens…I can do what I want! or are we struggling with mortality, trying, but falling short even with good efforts?
I’m not saying that if we’re just struggling through our weaknesses we ought to just let things go and see how life turns out. We still need to repent. We still need to strive. There will still be discouragement, surely. But God can work with weaknesses. In fact, He has promised to do that very thing:
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27)
So, without saying “go easy on sin”, I’m saying go easy on yourselves. You can still work on yourself today…and tomorrow. God wants to help weaknesses become strengths and so He is willing to work with you today…and tomorrow. I love Elder Richard G. Scott‘s recent thoughts on the matter:
“The joyful news for anyone who desires to be rid of the consequences of past poor choices is that the Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. Whereas the Lord warns that unrepented rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy.” (Elder Richard G. Scott, “Personal Strength Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ”, 2013)
I’m thankful for God’s mercy, especially when it comes to my endless weaknesses. If He is willing to continue to work with me, I’m willing to continue to work on me…
*This post is not a statement on what qualifies a person to be excommunicated. Each situation merits revelation from heaven on the matter.
As always, these thoughts are mine and do not represent the official views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints…