“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Matthew 18:21-22
“For judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13
To seek reconciliation is a humble fate, one that requires me to admit my shortcomings and extend mercy to those who have failed me. I pray that you give me the strength to believe apologizing–offering myself as an imperfect person–will lead to peace and spiritual freedom that I can’t claim outside of reconciling myself to those I have hurt. Meanwhile, I ask that you help me extend mercy in the same way you show mercy to me.
Father, extending mercy is often harder than asking for forgiveness because, if I am honest, being merciful requires me to dissolve the cloud of guilt I’ve loomed over the offender’s head. I must let them walk free and release any control I might have had over their conscience and the way they navigated their relationship with me.
God, as a human, I like control. In fact, I crave it. But help me remember that reconciling with another, whether I am asking for forgiveness for my wrongs or freeing someone of the shame they may carry, honors your sacrifice on the cross. It is the fruit of a life lived in communion with the most merciful one.
And as Your Word says, I must do this “not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Reconciliation knows no timeline, timeframe, parameters, or tally marks, just as Your love, Christ, knows no boundaries and mandates no prerequisites. In fact, You and all of heaven find joy in our repentance, because it is in our repentance that you run toward us with forgiveness, mercy, and the joy of a father knowing his wayward ones have returned home.
May I remember how often I have been forgiven, and may you grant me the strength to emulate your mercy.
In Your Merciful Name, I pray, Lord,