From Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, Chapter 16, which moved me:
And he said: “Do you know why I wrote that letter?”
I said: “No, sir.”
“Well I wrote it, just so you and some of the younger members of the apostles would learn the lesson that forgiveness is in advance of justice, where there is repentance, and that to have in your heart the spirit of forgiveness and to eliminate from your hearts the spirit of hatred and bitterness, brings peace and joy; that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings joy, peace and happiness to every soul that lives it and follows its teachings.”
And so he went on. I cannot remember all of the teachings, but he continued in this way, telling me that he could never have given me that experience, that he could not give to me a testimony of the gospel; that I must receive that testimony for myself; that I must have the right spirit come into my heart and feel it—the spirit of forgiveness, the spirit of long-suffering and charity—before there would any good come to me as an individual; that by simply surrendering my will to his, and voting to baptize this man, I would never have learned the lesson that the spirit of joy and peace comes in the hour of forgiveness, and when our hearts are full of charity and long-suffering to those who have made mistakes. From that day to this I have remembered those teachings.
The Prophet of the Lord [President Taylor] said:
“My boy, never forget that when you are in the line of your duty your heart will be full of love and forgiveness, even for the repentant sinner, and that when you get out of that straight line of duty and have the determination that what you think is justice and what you think is equity and right should prevail, you ofttimes are anything but happy. You can know the difference between the Spirit of the Lord and the spirit of the adversary, when you find that you are happy and contented, that you love your fellows, that you are anxious for their welfare; and you can tell that you do not have that Spirit when you are full of animosity and feel that you would like to knock somebody down.”
I am reminded of one of the finest chapters in all the Bible (1 Cor. 13):
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
“Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
“Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth:
“Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
“Charity never faileth; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
“For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
“But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
Many people imagine that charity is giving a dollar to somebody; but real, genuine charity is giving love and sympathy, and that is the kind of charity that the apostle had reference to in this 13th chapter of First Corinthians.
I remember that after that teaching given to me as a young man, as a boy, almost, by the President of the Church, I read this chapter about once a week for quite a while, then once a month for several months. I thought I needed it in my business, so to speak; that it was one of the things that were necessary for my advancement.
Rather than condemn others, we should strive to improve ourselves.
I remember that a year ago, here at the conference, I read a very splendid and wonderful song, the half of the first verse of which reads as follows:
Let each man learn to know himself,
To gain that knowledge let him labor,
Improve those failings in himself
That he condemns so in his neighbor.
[See “Let Each Man Learn to Know Himself,” Hymns (1948), no. 91]
… I also quoted the four short verses from our hymn [titled “Should You Feel Inclined to Censure”], a part of which reads as follows:
Should you feel inclined to censure
Faults you may in others view,
Ask your own heart, ere you venture,
If that has not failings too.
[See Hymns (1985), no. 235]
I had not the slightest idea when I quoted these poems, that I would desire to quote from them again today; but in view of the condemnation and the spirit, almost, of animosity, and hate that seems to be manifested by some people among the Latter-day Saints, at the present time, regarding business and political affairs, I desire to emphasize, with all the power of my being, the last verse of that little hymn … :
Do not form opinions blindly,
Hastiness to trouble tends,
Those of whom we thought unkindly
Oft become our warmest friends.
[See Hymns (1985), no. 235]. …
I desire to repeat the last verse of [an] excellent hymn, which I learned thirty-five or forty years ago, when Francis M. Lyman [of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles] first sang it for me. I wrote it that very night, and learned it the next day. I would like every Latter-day Saint to apply the teachings of this splendid verse in his or her life, and if we do that I believe we will grow in love and charity; that the spirit of peace and happiness, that President Taylor promised me when I entertained the feeling of determination to keep a man out of the Church, and the spirit of joy and peace which came to me, after the change of heart, will come to Latter-day Saints:
And in self-judgment, if you find
Your deeds to others’ are superior,
To you has Providence been kind,
As you should be to those inferior.
Example sheds a genial ray
Of light, which men are apt to borrow,
So first improve yourself today
And then improve your friends tomorrow.
[See Hymns (1948), no. 91]. …
Such a wonderful sermon, one that touches my heart and hopes.