Best of Daily Reflections: Lavish Forgiveness, Lavish Love
“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.”
In Luke 7:34, Jesus acknowledged that people had accused him of being “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and other sinners.” The following story provides a poignant illustration of Jesus’ scandalous “friendship” with “sinners,” allowing Jesus to explain why people of this sort were drawn to him.
While having dinner at a home of a Pharisee, “a certain immoral woman” (the Greek text reads literally, “a sinful woman”) approached Jesus with a jar of expensive perfume. “Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them” (7:38). The host was scandalized by this behavior. “If this man were a prophet,” the host said, “he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!” (7:39).
In response, Jesus told a story about two men whose debts were forgiven. The one who had been forgiven for the greatest debt loved the moneylender more than the one who received forgiveness for a small loan. This story explained why the woman with the perfume had been so lavish in her expression of love for Jesus, whereas his host had failed to offer Jesus even common courtesy. Jesus concluded: “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” (7:47).
We don’t know exactly how the woman had experienced divine forgiveness offered by Jesus, but somehow she knew that, through him, she had been forgiven for all of her sins. Thus she loved Jesus extravagantly.
So it is with us. The more we realize the depth of God’s forgiveness offered through Christ, the more we will love God with abandon. Though we do not have the opportunity to anoint Jesus with expensive perfume, we are able to offer him our praise and thanks, our adoration and joy. Moreover, we express our love for him by loving others in his name. Experiencing God’s forgiveness tenderizes and energizes our hearts so that we might love God and our neighbor with heart, soul, mind, and strength...with all that we are.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How have you experienced God’s forgiveness through Christ? Has this experience motivated you to love God and others with abandon? Is anything keeping you from knowing divine forgiveness in a transforming way? How can you show your love for God today?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, as I read this story from Luke, I’m struck by how paltry my love for you can be. Yes, I do love you. And, yes, there have been times when I have expressed my love for you in bold and expressive ways. But mostly I hold back. Forgive me, Lord, for taking you for granted.
As you forgive me, may I know with deep assurance and conviction just how great your forgiveness is. May I lay before you all of my sins, holding nothing back, so that I might experience the freshness of the cleansing you alone can offer. And as I am forgiven, may I love you with a full heart and a life of service. Knowing that I have been forgiven much, may I be empowered to love much.
All praise be to you, gracious, merciful, forgiving Lord! Amen.