Recently I sat in the bishop’s office as he interviewed my son for his upcoming baptism. When the bishop asked my son what he needed to do on a daily basis, my son answered, “repent.” I smiled broadly and the bishop grinned and nodded. “Very good. You know what? Repentance has gotten a bad rap.” The Bishop then proceeded to tell my son what a wonderful gift and opportunity it is to repent.

While I served in the Young Men’s Organization, I recall giving a lesson about repentance and the function of guilt. President Packer compared our physical body’s reaction to pain with our spirit’s response to guilt. I pointed out to the youth in the class when we feel pain, we don’t continue with the activity that is causing the harm, such as hitting our thumb with a hammer. Without the feeling of pain, we could do significant damage to our body.

When our body experiences the trauma of pain or sickness, the normal response is to treat or repair it, either with medication, treatment, or surgery. Sometimes we simply need to stop the activity and allow our body the opportunity to heal itself. A band-aid is seen as a good and positive thing for a little child. Why should repentance be treated any differently?

Graham wrote the other day about the gift the Atonement allows us to learn from and remember our experiences while at the same time erasing those mistakes from our ledger. Because of our Savior’s sacrifice, we have the gift of repentance. The gift of repentance. I repeat…the gift of repentance. Only the world and Satan’s influence could possibly turn guilt into a bad thing. “Go ahead and keep hammering away on your thumb! Anyone who tells you you’re doing wrong is only trying to make you feel bad! The swelling is your truth!”

President Nelson poignantly declared in the last conference:

“Too many people consider repentance as punishment—something to be avoided except in the most serious circumstances. But this feeling of being penalized is engendered by Satan. He tries to block us from looking to Jesus Christ, who stands with open arms, hoping and willing to heal, forgive, cleanse, strengthen, purify, and sanctify us.”

Ouch!

The world would define Christlike love and charity as complete acceptance, to the point of having that swollen and gnarled thumb broken and dangling. Compassion and empathy are understanding what it is like to have a stubbed toe or the fingers slammed in the door and hoping, praying, and helping for the pain to be subsided. It is not allowing for our brother or sister to continue to play on a broken ankle or leaving their diabetes untreated and unchecked.

President Boyd K. Packer reinforced this:

Some members wonder why their priesthood leaders will not accept them just as they are and simply comfort them in what they call pure Christian love.

Pure Christian love, the love of Christ, does not presuppose approval of all conduct. Surely the ordinary experiences of parenthood teach that one can be consumed with love for another and yet be unable to approve unworthy conduct.

We cannot, as a church, approve unworthy conduct or accept into full fellowship individuals who live or who teach standards that are grossly in violation of that which the Lord requires of Latter-day Saints.

If we, out of sympathy, should approve unworthy conduct, it might give present comfort to someone but would not ultimately contribute to that person’s happiness.

The Savior’s invitation for all is to repent and “sin no more.” Place the band-aid on your soul and allow Him to kiss your pain all better.

Supplemental Reading:

The Touch of the Master’s Hand” -President Boyd K. Packer, April 2001

Healing Soul and Body” -Elder Robert D. Hales, October 1998

The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness” -President Boyd K. Packer, October 1995

You can follow Dustin on Twitter @TheDMT1232.

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