“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12 NIV)
Forgiveness. When we’ve wronged someone there’s perhaps nothing we want or need more. When we’ve been wronged, there’s nothing that seems more difficult to give.
Because none of us is perfect, forgiveness is one of pillars of our relationships.
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” (Luke 17:3b-6 NIV)
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus’ teaching about the mustard seed as a picture of faith is in response the disciples’ request to “Increase our faith!” Their request was in response to his teaching on forgiveness. And his teaching was relentless forgiveness as the proper response to continual repentance.
Forgiveness can be painful. It can be exasperating. It can be tiresome. It can be hard. For these reasons and more, forgiveness requires faith. It is an act of faith.
Again, when we are asking for it, we know that forgiveness is our only hope and only way forward. But when it is requested of us, particularly over and over again, we need faith that God is at work when it’s hard to see, that our forgiveness is really making a difference. We need to entrust the situation to God, rather than taking matters into our own hands and trying to settle it ourselves. We need faith that forgiveness is better than retribution.
Jesus seems to say that the amount of faith isn’t as important as simply exercising what faith we’ve got. All we need is the smallest sliver of faith to act on it. Maybe this is good news for us when our well runs dry and our patience runs short. All we need to keep on forgiving is the smallest sliver of hope and faith and trust that Jesus’ way of forgiveness is true. We simply have to use it.
Prayer: God, I know I need forgiveness. I know it can be hard to keep on forgiving. Give me faith in your Word regarding forgiveness. Give me the will to exercise what seed of faith I have in order to persevere in forgiving. Amen.