We should love as much as we been forgiven
I would like to share with you a brief version of a great story from the Book of Luke 7:36-50. Jesus is having dinner with an important Jewish official when a “woman of the city, who was a sinner” (getting the picture?) approached Him, weeping, and wanting to anoint and kiss His feet with a valuable, costly alabaster flask of ointment. Then, the religious official discredits Jesus on the basis that He should know better who is approaching Him (“a sinner”).
I believe Jesus looks him directly in the eye, calling him by name, “Simon,” and offers a parable (teaching moment – or sermon illustration you might say) of a lender who forgave two persons “who could not pay,” their debt of 5 denarii and of 500 denarii. He then asked Simon to consider who loved Him more and received the greater mercy? Jesus declares to the woman, “Your sins, which are many are forgiven … go in peace”. He concludes the story, (our teaching moment) by telling Simon you should love as much.
I believe there are three things we must do with this very insightful reading from the book of Luke. First, we must see ourselves the way we really are – each a sinner in need of grace. Second, we must see others the way they are – no worse than us and no better than us, yet all of us needing grace. And thirdly, we must see Jesus the way He is – always full of grace and willing to provide the grace each of us need to overcome our sin issues. Jesus made it abundantly plain that both lawmakers and lawbreakers are equally in need of grace and forgiveness.
Some people stand too firm on the truth of the issue and not enough on the giving of grace while others focus too much on grace to the expense of truth. Wrong is wrong – and right is right. But Jesus said we are to be “full of grace AND truth.” (John 1:14) We must be balanced in dealing with the two in our lives on earth. Jesus never shared grace at the expense of truth, and He never spoke truth at the expense of grace. And, we are to follow His example. Jesus uses the parable to explain that the woman who has anointed Him loves Him more than the host, because she has been forgiven of greater sins.
A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and justice demanded death. “But I don’t ask for justice,” the mother explained. “I plead for mercy.” “But your son does not deserve mercy,” Napoleon replied. “Sir,” the woman cried, “it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for.” “Well, then,” the emperor said, “I will have mercy.” And he spared the woman’s son.
God is a forgiver of all, offering His only Son, declaring that His innocent death paid for all our sins when He pronounced, “It is finished” from our cross. Is the guilt of your mistakes, mess-ups, and flaws “finished?” I believe He wants us to be “grace-full forgivers,” unlike the self-righteous religious leader.
Pastor Bill Baltz is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.