“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!” Luke 17:4-5

Jesus is talking about forgiveness and yet the apostles respond by saying, “Increase our faith!” Why do they connect faith with forgiveness?

It takes faith to forgive. When we forgive we aren’t seeking to get even but rather we are trusting God to look after our interests. When we forgive someone we are “letting them off our hook”. We let go of our anger. The reason we’re able to do this is that God is our Vindicator. He is in control of all our circumstances and we can trust that he won’t allow us to be cheated without purpose or hurt beyond our ability to endure.

Forgiveness isn’t easy but the alternatives are even less attractive. Remaining angry creates bitterness which only hurts ourselves and not the person who has hurt us. Remaining angry doesn’t punish the person who has hurt us so our anger achieves nothing.

Sometimes we feel if we stop being angry then the person who has caused us pain has escaped justice. This is a short-sighted view. While there may appear to be no immediate ramifications for their bad behaviour, we can rest in the knowledge that God is a God of justice. If necessary, he will act on our behalf in his time and in his ways.

Forgiveness takes faith. Faith that God is a loving heavenly Father who feels our pain, yet he asks us to forgive because he knows that holding onto anger will only cause us even greater pain in the long term.

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