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The apostles-—that’s what Luke calls them at this point-—said to Jesus, "Increase our faith" (Luke 17:5). Yeah, if they were going to have to offer this kind of forgiveness, they were really going to need to reckon with their faith.
You see, like everything else in Christian life, forgiveness is a matter of faith. For when we forgive an offense, we are giving up something. Will God "make up difference" for us? It takes faith to trust Him to do that.
So Jesus began talking about mustard seeds and mulberry trees: “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by roots and be planted in sea,’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6).
Faith is like a mustard seed, and like a mustard seed, it must be planted to do any good. The size of seed is not important. What you do with it is. But how do you plant "seed" of faith?
Jesus tells us: "Say to this mulberry tree, 'Be pulled up by roots and be planted in sea,' and it will obey you."
Ah, yes. You plant your faith "seed" by what you say. It is same way with forgiveness. Forgiveness requires faith, and faith is a seed that you plant by what you say.
So way you forgive is to say, by faith, "I forgive." When you do that, you may not, at first, even feel like you have forgiven at all. You may even feel anger rising up again because of offense. Never mind that. You must cease from being moved by your feelings and continue to stand with your faith: "I forgive." As often as offense comes to mind, and as often as feelings of anger rise up, reassert your faith: "I forgive."
As you take your stand in faith and forgive, you will eventually find that offense has been uprooted from your life. It is no longer chained to you-—you have released it by faith. It is no longer a stumbling block for you—-you have removed it by faith. It has been cast into sea, by faith. Now you are free to move forward in your life.
© 2005 by Jeff Doles
Jeff Doles is the author of "Praying With Fire: Learning to Pray With Apostolic Power" and "Healing Scriptures and Prayers." He and his wife Suzanne are the founders of Walking Barefoot Ministries. For more faith-building articles, or more information about this ministry, visit their website at www.walkingbarefoot.com. Also visit their blog, The Faith Log at faithlog.blogspot.com.