Asking for forgiveness is hard.

It means realizing that you’ve hurt someone. It means accepting responsibility.

Asking for forgiveness is also deeply intimate.

It means acknowledging that the relationship you have with someone is close enough that you can hurt them. It means being vulnerable.

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Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Should I forgive as many as seven times?”

Jesus said, “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven times."

Matthew 18:21-22

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The disciples of Jesus probably thought they were being reasonable when they asked Jesus how many times they should forgive their brother or sister — they may have also been being either profound or cheeky in choosing the number seven. Seven is a holy number in the Bible, signifying completeness and wholeness: creation took seven days in the Book of Genesis. Jesus exclaims that it should be not 7, but 77 times!

In its most simple sense, this question and this answer is one of practicality. The disciples ask how they can completely fulfill their responsibilities to be forgiving people, knowing that forgiveness is a holy thing. Doesn’t forgiving one person seven times seem like a lot? How foolish does someone who forgives more than that seem? Jesus replies that we should be abundant in our forgiveness, foolish in our intentions to repair relationships. God forgives us that much.

Kirstin Swanson

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Forgiving God, help me to understand the limitless nature of your love. In that abundant love, you seek to forgive those who come to you sincerely asking for forgiveness. Give me that tendency to forgive, to see when a person truly is turning their heart towards you — even when it seems foolish. Amen.

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Each day is a new chance to act with compassion and offer forgiveness.

May your eyes, ears, and heart be opened to the new beginnings forgiveness can offer, for the forgiver and the forgiven.

Kirstin Swanson

Kirstin Swanson lives and works in Staten Island, NY, where she is a freelancing fundraiser and grant writer. She has worshiped and served in lay leadership in Episcopal churches in the New York City area and is blessed to share her home with her husband and two young children.

Making Space - Day By Day

Carter Harrell

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