How long we can be expected to go on forgiving somebody who persists in wronging us? Peter’s suggestion of seven times is pretty generous, given that we are sometimes quite reluctant to give somebody even a second chance. Jesus is not, of course, suggesting we should keep a record, and at the seventy-eighth offence feel free to retaliate! He is saying rather that knowing ourselves to be forgiven by God, whose patience with us is endless, we must also forgive others. (He goes on to illustrate this in a parable). Forgiveness brings healing, not only to the one who is forgiven, but to the one who forgives. As Shakespeare says of mercy, forgiveness blesses ‘both him that gives and him who takes’.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.