“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 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.”
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
6 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 17:3-6)
Seven times? In the same day? Really? We must forgive? The disciples’ response to Jesus’ words makes a lot of sense to me, “Increase our faith!”
Forgiveness and repentance is some of the hardest work to be done as humans. Neither are things that come naturally to us. It is only through the work of the Holy Spirit that we find ourselves truly repenting and truly forgiving. Sure, you might be able to really forgive someone once, or if you’re superhuman, twice in the same day but repeatedly, that is an act of faith.
I hear the apostles’ response as a plea, not simply a request. “Jesus, please increase our faith because there is no way we can forgive like that on our own. It is impossible for us to keep your command that we must forgive without your help! We need you to make our faith stronger.”
Forgiveness, and repentance, are mighty acts of faith. But faith is mightier still. It only takes a mustard seed to move a mountain of forgiveness. Lord, increase our faith!