Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)
“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.”
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
If I’m honest, I want to water down your command to forgive seventy times seven. I long for a literal, weakened translation so I can keep a paper and pen in my pocket, tallying each time I’ve forgiven those I feel are unworthy. Once I’ve reached the 490th time, I wish to cross the finish line and surrender my need to extend any more grace.
Yet, my heart begs for your new mercies each morning. As it says in Lamentations 3, I long for your love that promises I will never be consumed, never left to ruins, even when I give you countless reasons to withhold compassion.
Thank you, God, for not only recognizing but understanding my humanity. In your infinite wisdom, you acknowledge how flawed hearts wrestle with forgiveness, but you continue to offer mercy and grace to me in ways I can only comprehend through experience, which compels me to extend the same immeasurable kindness to others.
Create in my heart a desire to put away the tally marks. Let me see myself in those who have wronged me. Help me accept that just as people I love have violated my trust, I, too, have violated theirs.
God, grant me the same humility as Paul when he calls himself the chief of sinners, and in this lowly place, may I understand my identity as forgiven and beloved, and may I extend empathy in my relationships with others. Help me shift my perspective so that I no longer view forgiveness as a means of meritocracy, but as a tool you offer us to help deepen intimacy in our relationships. As I practice forgiveness in the ways you taught, help me see how doing so aids us all as we run the race set before us together.
In Your Holy Name, Jesus,