3 Nephi 18: 31-32:
“Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood. But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered. Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.”
Even if you know someone has violated the commandment, has partaken unworthily after you have forbidden them to do so, even then you are “not to cast him out from among you.” Instead the Lord puts on His disciples the burden of making intercession for him, praying “unto the Father, in [Christ’s] name” for such a man. For the Lord reminds us that, “if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in [His] name” then the man’s repentance will take care of his failure.
Notice the burden on His disciples. What does it mean to “minister unto him” who has transgressed? What does it mean to “pray for him unto the Father” when you know he has eaten and drank “damnation unto his soul?” Why would the Lord have His followers first forbid, then, when the forbidding fails, to follow it up with patience and prayer for the offender? Is this another extension of the teachings the Lord gave in the sermon previously? Does this again testify to you of how serious the Lord is about how kind and patient we are with others?
How long are you to bear with the offender, hoping for his repentance? When do you decide that he is determined to “repent not?” What does it mean, after you have determined the man will not repent that “he shall not be numbered among my people?” What does that suggest about further fellowship with that man? Why would that be coupled with “that he may not destroy my people?” What would such an unrepentant man need to do before you could decide he was attempting to “destroy my people?” How would you decide that?
Now, even if you think you have a basis for deciding all this against the man, “nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship.” Did you see that? We are not to forbid even the man who is intent upon destroying the Lord’s people from our places of worship. What selfless behavior is this? Enduring persecution! It is as if the Lord expects His followers to bless those who curse them, to do good to them who despitefully use them.
Why such patience? Because “ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.” If there is a chance for repentance, the Lord wants us to bear with, succor and uplift the non-repentant soul who drinks damnation. How often we would do otherwise. Christ instructs us to be more like Him in all we do. It is only by this patience, kindness, gentleness and meekness that He has been able to save my soul. Can a grateful person do anything less for another? Can we expect to forebear any less with the unrepentant than the Lord has with us?
How godlike the Master is in all His teachings. How much higher are His ways than are ours.
The Lord affirms that He knows His sheep. Not only knows them, but “they are numbered” to Him. He cares for each of them.
If we can add another to His fold by our own patient ministrations, then we ought to readily do so. If we do, then He will give us the credit for what we have done: “ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.” Did you catch that? He gives us the credit for the success! We merely follow what He instructs us to do, and if there is any benefit realized He gives us the credit for doing so. Our Savior is more than a good example. He is perfect in all His doings. It is little wonder that in the end every knee will bow before Him. Gratitude will bring some to their knees. Shame will bring the rest. No one will expect to stand or sit in His presence. For in Him we find a soul of such greatness that kneeling alone can give vent to the feelings He inspires.