[Part 1 of 4: Forgiveness Series]
Jesus said in the last days offenses would increase. This means our opportunity to forgive will increase as well. But actually, in the scope of humanity, the need to forgive is not new. In fact, concerning this very thing, the apostles said, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).
That certainly wouldn’t be the last time the Lord heard such a request. Almost daily, I face something personally, or I cross paths with someone going through a rough time, where faith encouragement is necessary.
In fact, just recently, I was visiting with a woman as she updated me on a particular situation in her life. I had ministered to her a couple of weeks prior, and as I sat and listened, I was delighted to observe her “increased” faith. She wasn’t completely out of the woods, but she had made significant progress from the “bottom of the pit” (as she described it) to simply sitting at the top of the pit now. She had confidence that she would continue to gain enough strength to walk completely away from the hole the enemy had dug for her.
This is why the apostles were a little taken back by what they had just heard Jesus say. They were stumped by His instruction to forgive often: “If your brother sins (misses the mark), solemnly tell him so and reprove him, and if he repents (feels sorry for having sinned), forgive him. Even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and turns to you seven times and says, I repent [I am sorry], you must forgive him (give up resentment and consider the offense as recalled and annulled)” (Luke 17:3-4, Amplified).
Dumbfounded at the number of times Jesus said a person should forgive (in one day), the apostles responded with, “Lord, increase our faith.”
In other words, they loved the Lord and wanted to obey Him, but at the same time they were surprised He expected them to forgive so readily and so often. But apparently, forgiveness is a key to increasing faith.
Let me say it this way: If we can’t exercise faith to forgive, what makes us think we have enough faith for other things, like healing or finances?
Let’s be honest… Exercising our faith in areas of forgiveness toward others will strengthen our ability to believe God, rely on Him, and mature in all areas. The Bible says, “Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding” (Proverbs 3:5, AMP). I think Jesus can be trusted. He knows what He’s talking about, so it would be prudent for us to follow His every word. There isn’t one counseling session I’ve ever had with a person where forgiveness wasn’t addressed in some way or another. It’s at the root of every problem we have. But what people don’t often realize is that forgiveness is not a feeling–it’s an act of faith. In other words, forgiveness is an act of obedience in response to a God-instruction.
While we’re being honest, let’s admit what we all know is true: no one ever “feels” like forgiving. But Jesus said by faith, we can. I’ve learned that just because my feelings aren’t aligned yet, doesn’t mean I’m a hypocrite for choosing to forgive before my feelings are ready. In fact, I’ve learned to grit my teeth and do it anyway, and my obedience to forgive (by faith) has always helped my heart heal faster.
There’s so much more to say on this subject of forgiveness, but let’s start by answering these questions:
Is there someone you need to forgive?
Will you trust God and do it by faith?
Forgiveness Series| Part 2 >>