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Faith is a gift from God


Published: Oct 10, 2013

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“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!” – Luke 17:3b-5

When my sibling and I were children, we would often tax our mother’s patience. During those times, she would look towards heaven and say, “Lord, give me faith.” I suppose faith to deal with us.

The people in our lives often stretch our patience. Whether it is our children, spouse, family members, friends, coworkers or our neighbors, they bring us to that point when we need God’s strength to guide us.  Even in the church, we need God’s strength to help us deal with our Christian brothers and sisters.

In our world, many express faith in the environment, the people and things around them. People have faith that something favorable will take place, for example investments for the future will be sufficient to take care of retirement needs.

Scientists have faith that successful research will bring about greater advancements for a better world. The ill patient has faith that the diagnosis of the specialist will initiate a cure and ultimately, improvement in health.

The faith the world has is different from Christian faith. The Christian faith, which is God’s gift, is centered in Jesus Christ. We believe that God’s promise in Christ will be fulfilled.

In the above text, Jesus instructs His disciples to forgive those who offend them. Not only does he tell them to forgive the infractions of others, but He commands them to do so over and over again.

Therefore, we who follow in the train of the apostles have a Christian duty to forgive. Jesus implores us to forgive and keep on forgiving.

When a brother offends, you show him his faults. Yes, you may rebuke him for his infraction. However, after bringing it to his attention, should he repent, forgive him.

Yes, it is difficult to forgive someone who has offended you over and over again. As humans, we are not generous with our forgiveness.  It is easier for us to seek and dispense revenge than to forgive.

There is a story about two boys who had been confronted by another boy. One of the two boys said to the other, “Pastor said in church that we should forgive 70 times seven.”

“Ok,” said his friend, “I will count. When I get to 490, let him have it.”

It is difficult to forgive someone who has consistently done you harm. In fact, it is easier to be like that little boy – count to 490, then get your revenge.

Jesus commands us, instead, to forgive. In order to do this, we all need to have our faith strengthened. Consequently, when Jesus told the apostles what is required of them, they immediately acknowledged their weakness and deficiency of faith. They quickly responded, “Increase our faith!”

Faith is a gift from God, which we need to help us cope with our daily challenges. This is something we should pray for daily because without God, forgiveness is difficult.

When we lean on Jesus and rely upon him to guide us, we can live according to his commands. Then, we can deal with the pains and hurts caused by others. Amen.

• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone: 426-9084; e-mail: lutheranchurch@coralwave.com; website: www.Nassaulutheranchurch.org.

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