Back in my teaching days, a favorite activity was reading aloud to my students.
Right after recess, we’d have quiet time in the classroom. The kids would rest their heads on their desks or just sit quietly in their seats, and I’d read a section from a chapter book. I loved seeing them get drawn into the story. Then at an exciting part, I’d stop reading and tell them we’d pick up the story tomorrow. Of course they’d want to hear more right then! However, we’d all look forward to finding out what happened the next day.
A good story draws the listeners in – and excellent stories teach us lessons and change our thinking. Jesus was the master storyteller, and told the best, most pointed stories. Let’s look at this parable from Luke 7:40-47.
“And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”
Let’s unfold this story about love.
In the parable, the creditor represents Jesus. The one who owed fifty pence would be Simon (a Pharisee), and the one who owed five hundred pence is the woman. The debt they owed represents their sin.
We read that both were forgiven their total debt, though the amounts owed were vastly different. The last verse says that the woman was forgiven of her many sins, and, consequently, she “loved much.”
Do you want to love Jesus like this woman did? I do. Let’s see what we can learn from her.
Have a right view of God and a right view of our sin.
Both debtors start in the same place. Neither one can pay their bill. In the same way, both Simon and the woman have no power in themselves to get their sins forgiven. And you and I are in that exact same boat. We have no righteousness of our own.
To grow our love for God, we must see ourselves as we are and God as He is. This woman knew the true extent of her sin. She recognized that there was no way she was “good enough” for God to love. She was totally humble.
If I’m honest with myself, I fear that I might be on the Simon side of this story at times. I was saved at a young age, and someone looking at me from the outside would likely say I wasn’t much of a sinner at the ripe old age of four. But I know my personal struggles, and the many times I fail to obey God. Pride and selfishness are not strangers to me. While I may look good on the outside, I know how many sins I harbor on the inside that need to be forgiven.
On the other hand, maybe you have a different past, and know exactly how this woman felt. It’s how we should all see ourselves. Romans 3:23 say, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” We only imagine that we have little to be forgiven. We must fully recognize the degradation of sin and what it cost to pay for it.
So I can’t love God to my fullest extent until I have the right view of myself and the right view of God. Humility is where it’s at.
Focus on Jesus.
This woman’s focus was totally on Jesus. She didn’t care who else was in the house or what was being served for dinner. All she cared about was ministering to Jesus, and showing Him how much she loved Him.
Undoubtedly Simon had his thoughts on other things. Maybe he was wondering when the meal would be ready, or why a certain guest hadn’t arrived, or did everyone have enough to drink? (Does this remind you of another New Testament story – Martha and Mary?) Regardless, Jesus notes how Simon didn’t extend the normal courtesies when Jesus arrived at his house.
Worship through service.
How did this much-forgiven woman show that she loved Jesus? By her actions.
We talked earlier in this series about following God’s commandments in order to show that we love Him. Yet not one of the things she did – washing and wiping His feet, kissing them, and anointing them – were direct commands. Instead, they were acts of service that she wanted to do from a heart that overflowed with love. Her outward actions were the manifestation of a heart that loved greatly.
It all boils down to this.
“Those who are most conscious of forgiveness will be most fruitful of love.” ~MacLaren
As we go through our day, let’s remember the great forgiveness of God, and look for ways to worship and serve Him.