Forgiveness and Faith

For a couple of weeks our church is exploring the topic of forgiveness.

It’s interesting that, as it turns out, today’s scripture passage selection is on the same subject.  (See Luke 17:1-6)

First, Jesus spoke of how we are called to forgive others who offend us – even up to 7 times in one day – if they are sincerely repentant of hurting us.  He is not being legalistic here, i.e. “Up to 7 times a day you must forgive but over that, they are on their own!”  Rather, he is pointing out that even when our natural tendency is to hold a grudge we shouldn’t.

Not surprisingly, the disciples responded, “Lord, increase our faith!”

That’s when he said that even they only had a tiny mustard seed’s worth of faith -they could work miracles.

It’s a great subject to consider during Lent.  To consider how we are called, just like the Lord, to be suffering servants – loving, forgiving, over and over again.  Though it may be seemingly difficult, even just a tiny bit of faith, can make it happen.

So often, when asked to show some grace, some forgiveness, we scream, “But I just can’t!”  My response, “You’re right, on your own, you may find you can’t.  On the other hand, God can, working in and through you, if you will let God override your natural tendency to seek revenge.”

So, during Lent, think about how – with God’s help – maybe you can put down the rock of bitterness you have been carrying for too long.  Have a little faith – you can do it.

Come to think of it.  Why do it just at Lent?  Why not all the time?

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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