Great Forgiveness = Great Love

Jesus makes the point very clearly. When a person is forgiven, the result will be love. And the greater the forgiveness, the greater the love.

Simon, a Pharisee, had invited Jesus into his home. But being a Pharisee, he naturally believed that he had his act together. Not much forgiveness was really needed for him. At least, that’s how Simon looked at it. And his love matched that. When Jesus came to his house, Simon was completely unwelcoming.

An unnamed (and apparently uninvited) woman, however, came into Simon’s house while Jesus was there. She broke open a very valuable jar of perfume and poured the perfume onto Jesus’ feet. She washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, and with her hair.

The only difference? The woman was “a woman who had lived a sinful life in the town” (Luke 7:37, NIV).

She was sinful. She knew it. But she trusted that Jesus had great forgiveness for her. Which, in fact, he did. So, as a result of being forgiven, she showed great love to Jesus.

When forgiveness overflows, love overflows.

“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little. Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:41-47, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Sunday, March 29, is Numbers 26:12 – 27:11, Luke 7:36-50 and Proverbs 8:12-21.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your forgiveness. You have forgiven me much. Now help me to love you as much as you have first loved me–and forgiven me.

Header image based on "snow whites tears" by L. Whittaker, CC By 2.0

Impossible Righteousness

Do you ever feel like saying, “Really, Lord? Really?! How is that even possible?”

If you get to know the real Jesus (not the “Jesus” our culture sometimes makes up in its head), you’re going to have moments like that. Because Jesus says things that are difficult — if not impossible — to do. And really, many of them are hard to even imagine.

It just so happens that there’s a whole bunch of these sayings in a section of Luke affectionately known as “The Sermon on the Plain” (which bears a striking resemblance to the teaching in the Sermon on the Mount).

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:27-31, NIV).

Could we review that quickly?

  • Love my enemies?
  • When someone hates me, treat them well?
  • When someone curses me, bless them?
  • When someone pounds on me, let them do it again?
  • If someone steals from me, offer them more of my property — as a gift?
  • If someone asks for help, always give it to them? Every last time?
  • And then, if they take advantage of my kindness, just let it go?

Well, that’s exactly what I hear Jesus saying. How about you?

I think if we actually acted like this, we would stand out. Big time. And Jesus says that we will too.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32, NIV).

Impossible to do all these things? Yes, it absolutely is impossible to pull them off in our own power. That’s why we need Jesus. He did them all for us. He did the impossible perfectly so that he could present his impossible righteousness to us as a gift.

And he will send his Holy Spirit so that each day — living in Jesus’ grace and forgiveness — we get a little better at doing the impossible ourselves! Then, because we stand out, we can point people to a Savior named Jesus who stood up for a world of sinners.

Our Bible reading for Thursday, March 26, is Numbers 21:4 – 22:20, Luke 6:12-36 and Psalm 37:21-31.

Jesus, thank you for standing up for me, and offering yourself as the perfect sacrifice for my sins. Thank you for being my Champion. Now, by your Spirit’s power, allow me to stand out by making choices that the world finds distasteful and completely uncomfortable.

Header image based on "Agape" by Marcelino Rapayla Jr., CC By 2.0

The Language of Love

It’s Valentine’s Day. And I want to share another love language with you.

Possibly you’ve heard of the “Five Love Languages” popularized by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book of the same name.

The five love languages Chapman identifies are: 1) gifts, 2) quality time, 3) words of affirmation, 4) acts of service and 5) physical touch.

But I believe there’s another love language, one that Chapman overlooks. And that love language is Jesus.

Sometimes when we think of sharing Jesus with others, we think of people we don’t know very well. Often, when we think of doing “mission work” our minds drift immediately to the other side of the world.

But what about the person who is right next to you, the one you love with all your heart, your “Valentine”?

“But they’re already a Christian,” you say? That’s OK. They still need a daily “valentine’s card” with the message of grace, mercy, love and the peace of Jesus. They still need to taste forgiveness and hope more than chocolate.

“They’ll never become a Christian and I’ve given up trying,” is your thought? Have you tried combining the love language of Jesus with one of the other five love languages? There’s more than one way to share the love of Jesus!

Yes, we absolutely want to share the “John 3:16 gospel.” We must! Otherwise there’s no way for our Valentine to know Jesus. We fully trust the power of the Holy Spirit to work through the gospel to change hearts.

AND, Jesus conveyed his love in many ways. So can we.

Jesus gave gifts. Jesus invested time in people. Jesus affirmed our status as children of God in words. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. Jesus used the power of touch to heal. And as we see from Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus (and many others), he had a way of working the conversation gently toward the gospel message from there.

Sometimes when we obey the Great Commission and go, we don’t have to go that far in terms of geography. We just have to go farther in terms of love.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).

Lord Jesus, help me to love the way you love, with all-out passion in every love language. Your love is self-sacrificial. Your love is caring and giving. Forgive me for the times when my “love” has been selfish and self-serving. Create in me a clean, new heart. Strengthen my by your Spirit’s power. I want to love the way you love.

Our Bible reading for Saturday, February 14, is Exodus 15:1 – 16:36, Matthew 28:1-20 and Psalm 21:8-13.

Header image based on "Happy Valentine's Day" by Jackie, CC By 2.0