“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Greetings, it has been a long time since my last blog post and for a good reason because I have had some growing and breaking to do personally and did not want to post something half-hearted but genuine and truly want to connect with God’s heart and help those who read this to do the same.
Today, I would like to explore the concept of God’s forgiveness and just how unimaginably vast it is and what our response should be in light of that. I know this topic, at least on the surface, seems overdone… I mean we all know about God’s forgiveness, right? We all (believers and unbelievers) can quote John 3:16, we all know that God gave His only begotten Son to save and forgive us of our sins but do we truly understand the depths of what that means or is our understanding cursory and shallow and unable to invoke real change? Please humor me while we explore this concept deeper.
I believe Luke 7:36-50 portrays a beautiful illustration of God’s forgiveness and our proper response to it.
36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.
37 And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume,
38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.
39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”
40 And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.”
41 “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.”
44 Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
45 You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet.
46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.
47 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
48 Then He said to her, “ Your sins have been forgiven.”
49 Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “ Who is this man who even forgives sins?”
50 And He said to the woman, “ Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Most of us are familiar with the story of the woman with the alabaster box. We focus on her act of worship towards Jesus as well as the Pharisee’s scorn of her “indecent” act. But what really brought her to that place of worship and faith before Jesus and why didn’t the Pharisee do the same? The reason is illustrated by Jesus in the parable that he presents regarding the moneylender and two debtors. Although both debtors were forgiven their debts their response towards the moneylender varied according to the amount they were forgiven. The one who was indebted and forgiven more would love more.
So what exactly does this mean to us and how can we apply it?
Our love for Christ is directly in proportion to how much we have been forgiven of or rather how much we perceive that we have been forgiven of. Now among those of us who are Christians, many of us recognize at least on a surface level that Christ has forgiven us of much sin but often our head knowledge does not translate to our heart. Many of us, even Christians, just do not realize the magnitude of our sins or how deeply our sin offends God therefore we do not realize the true depths of His forgiveness towards us nor do we love Him as we should.
One major objection people have about coming to Christ is the pervading view that mankind is basically good. Of course this belief is contrary to the clear view of scripture that none of us are righteous or inherently good (Romans 3:10-18). We often look at the next person and compare ourselves amongst ourselves (2 Corinthians 10:12) and believe ourselves as spiritually superior and good people because we don’t sin the same as others. We also do this as Christians and fail to take an ongoing self-inventory of our indebtedness to God. This causes our love for Christ to grow cold and for us to take judgmental attitudes towards others. If you are struggling to love God and others then perhaps you have lost appreciation of all that Christ has forgiven you of, perhaps in your heart you conceptualize that your debt is much smaller than it really is. So how do we deal with this?
The more that I grow in Christ then the more I begin to realize that true depths of my sin before God. Sin’s roots are much more deep then I had imagined when I first submitted my life to Jesus. Rather than leave me discouraged this should bring my focus back to the cross and give me a realization of the insurmountable debt that I owed and a greater appreciation of Christ’s forgiveness of me. This in turn should translate into me loving Christ more in return so that my love is deeper than before towards Him and others.
Picture it this way… imagine that you caused a car accident and left the car that you hit badly damaged… now imagine you don’t have a dime to your name and have no idea how to pay for the damage… then imagine the owner of that car tells you that he forgives you of the damage and is letting you go without paying for it… wow makes you really appreciate that person, right? Now further imagine that the owner of that car tells you that his son was in the car and died as a result of that accident but that he forgives you of even that… MIND BLOWN… now your love and indebtedness to this man has increased a million-fold. That is how our understanding of God’s forgiveness of us should naturally progress in our walk with God as He shows us more and more of our offenses against Him.
First we must recognize our deep transgression and indebtedness before God on a continual basis. Jesus did not deny the woman’s sins but rather stated they were “many”. Next our response should mirror our knowledge of God’s forgiveness of us and not be concerned about the opinion of others. For the woman who was a known sinner (two strikes against her in that culture) to come before Jesus and wash His feet with her tears, wipe His feet with her hair, and pour out the alabaster box on His feet to cleanse them was viewed as an extreme act of worship in light of the sin that God had forgiven her of. As our understanding of Christ’s forgiveness grows then so should our response. Our love for Christ should be viewed as extreme to this culture and even to other Christians. Some will look upon you with disdain as the Pharisee did to the woman and say that “you are doing too much” and “it doesn’t take all that to be a Christian”. Continue to press on in your love for Your Savior and don’t let others quench the fire. Finally our treatment of others should be out of humility for the forgiveness we ourselves have received and reflect that same love that has been bestowed upon us.
1 John 4;19
We love Him because He first loved us