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. - Luke 7:47
So how much have you been forgiven?
If you're like me, you probably don't think of yourself as THAT sinful. I mean, there are plenty of people who rank higher on the sin-o-meter than me. Sure, I commit the occasional sin, but nothing major. No murder. No adultery. No genocide. Nothing that will get me on the evening news or make me the star of my own made-for-TV movie.
But when you read Luke 7, you have to come to grips with the fact that Jesus puts a high priority on having a low view of our own righteousness. In other words, He wants us to recognize the magnitude of our sinfulness. He makes His point with a simple, short parable and through the actions of a woman who was anything but a model for righteousness. In the parable, Jesus juxtaposes two debtors: one who owed 500 denarii, the other 50. Keep in mind that a single denari was the equivalent of an entire day's wages for an ordinary worker. So the bottom line is that both of these guys had been forgiven a LOT. More than they could ever repay. That's the point.
Then Jesus turns His attention and that of Hishost (a Pharisee) to the woman. He points out that she had washed His feet with her own tears and hair, then anointed His head with costly perfume. Yet His illustrious host hadn't even offered Jesus water with which to wash His own feet. According to Jesus, what was the motivating factor behind their two responses? It seems to have something to do with their understanding of their own sinfulness. Jesus says, "her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little."
This woman, like the debtor who owed the 500 denari, was aware of the magnitude of her own sinfulness and the insurmountable size of her indebtedness. She knew she could never pay off the debt she owed for her sin. It was out of her reach and her moral budget. Yet the Pharisee, just as much a sinner with a debt too large to repay, refused to even acknowledge he owed a debt. He saw this woman as a greater sinner than himself and unworthy to even be in his home.
But Jesus reminds this arrogant Pharisee, and each of us, that "he who is forgiven little, loves little." In other words, if you don't think you owe anything to begin with, forgiveness means nothing. And that is where some of us fail to appreciate the incredible gift we have received from Christ. We simply refuse to see ourselves as debtors. We don't want to admit that we are spiritually bankrupt and on our way to the poorhouse.
Even the apostle Paul was willing to acknowledge his sinfulness. In 1 Timothy 1:15 he stated:
It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
Paul called himself, "the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle" (1 Corinthians 15:9). He knew his past. He knew his life before Christ. And he knew he was guilty of much and forgiven much. So his response was love! He showed his love through his sold-out commitment to the cause of Christ. He dedicated his entire life to spreading the good news about Jesus Christ. He was an avid defender of the faith. He was a dedicated proponent of the gospel. He was willing to give his life so that others might have eternal life. All because he was fully aware of the size of the debt he had owed and the magnitude of the forgiveness he had received.
Father, open my eyes so that I might see my debt. Show me the balance sheet and the place where it says, "PAID IN FULL." Don't ever let me think of myself as rich in righteousness or unneedful of forgiveness. I have been forgiven MUCH, so I want to love MUCH! Amen.