The Heart of Forgiveness
Read Luke 7:36-50
Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”
Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.” “That’s right,” Jesus said. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Luke contrasts the Pharisees with sinners. Simon had committed several social errors in neglecting to wash Jesus’ feet (a courtesy extended to guests because sandaled feet got very dirty), anoint his head with oil, and offer him the kiss of greeting. Did Simon perhaps feel that he was too good to treat Jesus as an equal? The sinful woman, by contrast, lavished tears, expensive perfume, and kisses on her Savior. In this story it is the grateful prostitute—and not the stingy religious leader—whose sins were forgiven. Although it is God’s grace through faith that saves us and not acts of love or generosity, this woman’s act demonstrated her faith, and Jesus honored her faith.
Overflowing love is the natural response to forgiveness and the appropriate consequence of faith. But only those who realize the depth of their sin can appreciate the complete forgiveness God offers them.
How do you show your gratitude for God’s mercy and forgiveness? One way to show thankfulness is to forgive others. This isn’t always easy, especially if an emotional wound is very deep. Ask God for whatever you might need to extend forgiveness to someone: healing, courage, freedom from bitterness. He’ll provide.