The teaching materials for the learning experience on “Commandments” are divided into three parts. In part 1, students will study paragraphs 9.1 through 9.5 of this doctrinal topic using the information in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. They will learn about the commandment to forgive others, and they will study the doctrinal mastery passage found in Doctrine and Covenants 64:9–11.
Note: You could teach the segments of this lesson in a single class session or over the course of multiple class sessions. If you choose to teach the segments over the course of multiple class sessions, you may need to briefly review with students what they learned in the previous segment before you teach a new segment.
Divide students into small groups, and provide each group with a sheet of paper and a pencil. Invite each group to list as many commandments as they can in one minute. After one minute, invite students to report some of the commandments they wrote. You might ask them which of all these commandments they think are the greatest, or the most important.
Invite a student to read aloud paragraph 9.1 in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why Heavenly Father gives us commandments.
Why does Heavenly Father give us commandments?
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud paragraphs 9.2 through 9.5 in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Ask the class to follow along, looking for commandments they might add to their list from the beginning of this lesson.
Which of these commandments have brought blessings into your life?
Invite students to individually review paragraph 9.5 in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document and to find which of Heavenly Father’s commandments in this paragraph are associated with doctrinal mastery passages in the Doctrine and Covenants. (There are three commandments in this paragraph that are associated with doctrinal mastery scripture passages in the Doctrine and Covenants. They are given in the following key statement of doctrine: God’s commandments include … forgiving others, observing the Word of Wisdom, and teaching the gospel to others. Invite students to consider marking these three commandments in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document.)
Explain that students will study these three commandments as they continue learning about this doctrinal topic.
Why do you think God commands us to forgive others?
In what ways does the commandment to forgive others show Heavenly Father’s love for His children?
How do you think forgiving others will help us become more like Heavenly Father?
Invite students to think of a time when they, or someone they know, struggled to forgive someone.
Ask students to open their scriptures to Doctrine and Covenants 64:9–11. Invite them to consider marking this passage in a distinctive way so they will be able to locate it easily.
Explain that the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 64 was given through the Prophet Joseph Smith after he and some other brethren had returned to Ohio from a trip to Missouri. During the journey to and from Missouri, some of the brethren had disagreements with each other and struggled with contentious feelings.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 64:9–11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why God commands us to forgive others.
Why does God command us to forgive each other?
What will be the consequences of our not forgiving someone who has wronged us?
Why do you think we stand condemned, or are considered guilty, if we do not forgive others?
If possible, display the following statement by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Invite a student to read it aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why extending forgiveness is critical for our spiritual growth.
“For our own good, we need the moral courage to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. Never is the soul nobler and more courageous than when we forgive. This includes forgiving ourselves.
“Each of us is under a divinely spoken obligation to reach out with pardon and mercy and to forgive one another. …
“We will receive the joy of forgiveness in our own lives when we are willing to extend that joy freely to others. Lip service is not enough. We need to purge our hearts and minds of feelings and thoughts of bitterness and let the light and the love of Christ enter in. As a result, the Spirit of the Lord will fill our souls with the joy accompanying divine peace of conscience (see Mosiah 4:2–3)” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Point of Safe Return,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 101).
Why is extending forgiveness critical for our spiritual growth?
Consider inviting students to write Matthew 6:14–15 as a cross-reference next to Doctrine and Covenants 64:9–11 in their scriptures. Invite a student to read Matthew 6:14–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Savior said in His Sermon on the Mount about why we stand condemned if we choose not to forgive others. Invite students to report what they find.
From what we have learned so far, what could you tell a friend who is angry and hurt because of something someone did to them? (Depending on time, this scenario could be set up as a role play. Help students understand that we should forgive all who have offended us, but forgiving others does not mean we should remain in a situation where abuse of any kind has occurred. Those who feel they have been or are being abused or bullied should seek the help of their bishop or branch president or a trusted adult immediately.)
Note: The following review activity is not intended to be taught during the same class session as this lesson—“Commandments, Part 1.” Please present this activity during a seminary class session that takes place after you have taught this lesson, but before you teach “Commandments, Part 2.” This short review can be taught at the beginning or end of a class in which you teach a regular sequential scripture lesson from the Doctrine and Covenants. Be sure that this review takes no longer than five minutes, so as not to take away from the scripture block students will be studying in class.
Invite students to complete the following true–false quiz. You could create a handout with these questions or you could choose to read the questions to the class. Have them write whether they think a statement is true (T) or false (F).
____ 1. It is a commandment to forgive others, even when they are not sorry for what they have done.
____ 2. If we refuse to forgive others, then we cannot be forgiven, and we will stand condemned before the Lord.
____ 3. It is acceptable to withhold forgiveness until the offender has learned to change his or her behavior.
____ 4. Doctrine and Covenants 64:9–11 helps teach the following key statement of doctrine: God’s commandments include forgiving others.
____ 5. With the Lord’s help, we can leave the punishment of someone who has offended us in God’s hands, and we can move on in our lives without holding on to negative thoughts and feelings.
Answers to the quiz: 1. True; 2. True; 3. False; 4. True; 5. True.
Review the quiz together as a class, discussing any of the questions and answers as needed.
Consider inviting students to turn to Doctrine and Covenants 64:9–11 and reading it aloud. Encourage them to memorize this passage at home.