Bethany Lutheran Brethren Church
Staten Island, NY

Bethany Blog

Bethany Blog

Check out Sunday's Messages and Devotionals from Pastor Paul Couch!

Increase our Faith

“Pay attention to yourselves!  If you brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”  Luke 17:3-4

Parenting feels a lot like being a hamster on a wheel!  (I’ve been on a treadmill and am assuming it is a similar experience!)  Something wrong occurs and you sit down with your child and give them the best, most articulate explanation of what they did, what was wrong with it, and what they should do in the future.  Your child, although in truth showing signs of glossed over eyes, responds with “ok.”  And then twenty minutes later your dealing with the same thing.  So you try again, but a little shorter this time with more illustrations.  Again, the child replies in the affirmative that they understand.  Everyone goes on with their day.  And then it happens again and again…and again!

This is the dripping faucet of parenting.  We begin to wonder if we are incapable of communicating the most simple of truths or if there is something wrong with our children’s ears.  The truth is that it is much worse.  A proverb that Peter shares describes the human tendency of us all, “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire” (2 Peter 2:22).  We are by nature broken and even as Christians tempted daily (even moment by moment) to return back to our sinful ways. 

We would love to hide this fact or ignore it, but Jesus will let us do no such thing.  He knows us exactly as we are.  He is willing to lovingly point this out even in the above passage.  Behind Jesus words is the clear reality that we are those that will be forgiven and then return back to the same sin in need of the same forgiveness again and again.  He does not say that it is ok that we do this.  In fact, He calls us to repent each time.  But Christ also commands us to forgive people who sin against us and repent, no matter the number.  We may be tempted to think we have an out here: “well, if they don’t repent, then I don’t have to forgive!”  But God commands us to forgive as He forgave us (Ephesians 4:32).  And He forgave us before the creation of the world, before we could even ask for forgiveness (Ephesians 1:3-10).  From person to person we are commanded to always grant forgiveness.  The person however will not be able to receive that forgiveness until they repent.  You have no control of that.  But you are commanded to forgive.

When the disciples heard this their immediate response was “increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5).  This is too much for us to bear on our own.  There is no way that we can live this way in our strength.  Unless God helps us we will never be able to live up to this standard.  Which is why God continues to be faithful to show us our sin and His forgiveness of it.  God makes us more aware of our sin so that we might become even more aware of His grace and mercy for us.  “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20b). 

The experience of the heavenly Father with us is not like a hamster wheel.It is like a marathon.It has a beginning and an end, and He is more than capable of running it.May our faith be increased as we see him run toward us and may we find strength in Him to run as He does knowing that the prize is more than worth it!