Forgiveness and faith

 

Todays’ reading is about faith and forgiveness. The two are connected in a marvelous, and unexpected way by our Lord.

 

He was answering the apostles, who were marvelling that a fig tree He had cursed had withered away. As is always the case, His answer was deeper than the question. He first adresses their faith, and tells them that they can have whatever they pray for if they have faith. This is important news, but what if a man does not have this kind of faith? Jesus answers this unasked question: a man must forgive others or he will not have faith.

Forgiveness of others is the conduit by which the grace of God passes to us. By our Lords own words, we see that without forgiveness, there is no faith. Do we make this connection? I think not, since we often find it so difficult to forgive.

 

 

Mark 11:23-26 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

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4 Responses to “Forgiveness and faith”

  1. From: Natalia Arzhantseva
    Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2009 17:58:50 +0300

    Father, Bless!

    Some time ago I started thinking of the following: much is being said of love. and I wondered what it really means, where is the criterium, by which I can realise whether I feel love to my neighbours, or to anyone else or not? How people can identify whether they are able to love? as it is difficult to obtain at least somehow objective vision of ourselves, and our sins as well (unless they are plain & our conscience condemns us – what depends on the exctent of conscience we have, of course!). We may concentrate on something minor, mentally enlarging it, and omit something very significant, not notice a very poisoning source in our soul. It’s alike with the notion of love. I thought – how can I be aware of whether I love a person or not: for example, we take as a criterium good deeds. Ok, I do them. But I can also do them because it’s obligatory, because I must do this & that. I may even feel good after having sone something of the kind, or saying something that encourages a person..and at the same time I might feel nothing in my heart for him, or even hidden disgust. Apparently, I do good but I don’t feel I love this person. Or vice versa: I may miss a person, need his presence, long for speaking with him, sharing my thoughts with him. But I do not look for the ways of doing something real for him. So no “noble deeds” take place. Maybe he needs something, but it never occurs to me to wonder. In my view, this also doesn’t look like love…

    And today, having read your thoughts, I at the first time in my life thought: maybe the criterium of love is also forgiveness, as it is the criterium of our faith? Of course, maybe it is not a single one, but essential, the starting point from where we can look at ourselves & see whether we are capable of forgiveness, whether we at least one did this? Forgiveness is a very hard experience, requiring much selflessness. It’s an act of faith & love, measuring how we really try to follow the Gospel, where our Lord Jesus Christ shows is example of love to such a hight, that it revealed itself in His forgiveness.

    Is it possible to view love from this angle too?

    Also, forgiveness, our will & capability to it, is I think demonstrates what you talked to us a bit earlier – i.e. not what we do, but what we have become. Or not have become. That’s the “reference point”.

    Thank you.

    in Christ,

    Natalia

    This comment is posted with permission from The St Nicholas email list: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church

  2. From: “Debra Burns”
    Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2009 09:46:20 -0600 (Central Standard Time)

    Father, Bless,

    I had heard before that the door for the forgiveness from God to enter our
    hearts is the same door through which our forgiveness for others goes forth.
    So if the door is closed the flow in either direction stops. However,
    until reading your post, I had not thought about the connection between
    forgiveness and faith. And, although I knew of the connection between love
    and forgiveness, until I read Natalia’s post, I had not really thought about
    forgiveness as being the foundation and basis of love.

    Now that I think about it, it seems obvious. Without faith, the ability to
    see things with the eyes of God, forgiveness is impossible. If we cannot or
    will not forgive, we cannot see things with the eyes of God. And how can I
    claim to love my brother if I have not even forgiven him? And how can I love
    God, or claim to have His love in me, if I do not love my brother? “If a man
    say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth
    not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not
    seen?” 1 John 4:20

    So faith, forgiveness, God’s Love are like a kind of trinity. Faith-being
    the vision that comes from God’s Love, and Forgiveness being the action of
    God’s Love.

    Thank you, Father and Natalia, for your insights, today. They have really
    helped me to see something new and important.

    With Gratefulness,In Christ,

    Debra
    This comment is posted with permission from The St Nicholas email list: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church

  3. From: debrafr…@wildblue.net
    Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2009 08:54:17 -0800 (PST)

    Dear Natalia,

    I have been thinking about your post and your question concerning how
    we can determine whether or not we truly love our neighbor. As you
    pointed out, feelings can be deceptive and the doing of good deeds can
    be done for other reasons than genuine love.

    As I pondered this question I thought of the following facts:
    1) I know that apart from the Lord’s Righteousness, I am not capable
    of genuine love and forgiveness.
    2) I cannot forgive unless I am forgiven.
    3) I cannot be forgiven or made righteous without confession.
    4) 1 John 1:9 assures us that with confession we will be both forgiven
    and made righteous.

    Then I thought about the interesting fact that in all my daily
    prayers, amidst the numerous confessions and entreaties for
    forgiveness for my own sins, there is only one place that the
    forgiving of others is mentioned–in the Lord’s Prayer we ask God to
    forgive us our debts “as we forgive our debtors”. It is simply stated
    as a fact that we do/will forgive others. And as you pointed out,
    forgiveness and love (and faith) are inextricably linked.

    So apparently, we can know, with assurance, that as we continue to
    confess our sins, we are/will be forgiven and cleansed of
    unrighteousness and, thus, we do/will forgive and love others. We can
    rest assured in this simple understanding of the facts, the Truth.

    Thank you again, so much–and to Father Seraphim, as well–for sharing
    your inspiring thoughts and words on this relationship between love,
    faith and forgiveness. I now see that continued confession,
    acknowledgment of my own sins, is the key to loving and forgiving
    others.

    Debra
    This comment is posted with permission from The St Nicholas email list: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church

  4. From: debrafr…@wildblue.net
    Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2009 17:57:11 -0800 (PST)

    The parable of the unmerciful servant, that Nicholas mentioned, also
    shows that forgiveness of the debts of others begins with our
    acknowledgment of our own debts (i.e. confession of our sin). The
    unmerciful servant recognized that he owed the master, but it was
    clear he had absolutely no comprehension of the enormity of his debt–
    since he claimed that, given time, he could repay a sum that was more
    than he could ever earn in a lifetime. And this failure to understand
    the enormity of what was done for him when the master canceled his
    debt was only part of his problem. He also did not seem to appreciate
    the smallness of the sum that was owed to him–a sum that actually
    could possibly be repaid. And he did not even have the common decency
    to do as was done to him, and forgive his debtor. Lastly, he failed
    to recognize that his failure to forgive his debtors would
    effectively nullify the cancellation of his huge debt. Because his
    debt had been canceled, he thought that was the end of his problems
    and obligations.

    Many of us have these same misunderstandings about the nature of our
    situation. We either fail to recognize the enormity of what God has
    done for us and the impossibility of ever repaying God through our own
    efforts. Or we fail to understand that our need to have our debts
    canceled (i.e. to be forgiven) is only part of our problem–we must
    also, in turn, do as the Master did, and cancel the debts we are owed
    by others. Failure to do so lands us in debtor’s prison, tormented
    until we pay back the last penny owed.

    If I recognize all this, why do I still get so angry and aggravated
    over such petty things? Even as I am going through the painful
    process of having a log extracted from my eye, I am still complaining
    about the mote in my brother’s eye. “For I delight in the law of God
    after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring
    against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law
    of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall
    deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus
    Christ our Lord….” Romans 7: 22-25

    This comment is posted with permission from The St Nicholas email list: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church

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