Who Has Been Forgiven Little?

Readers of the Gospels marvel at Jesus’ ability to move with ease among the sinners and outcasts. Having spent time around “sinners” and also around purported “saints,” I have a hunch why Jesus spent so much time with the former group: I think he preferred their company. Because the sinners were honest about themselves and had no pretense, Jesus could deal with them. In contrast, the saints put on airs, judged him, and sought to catch him in a moral trap. In the end it was the saints, not the sinners, who arrested Jesus.

Recall the story of Jesus’ dinner at the home of Simon the Pharisee, in which a woman … poured perfume on Jesus and provocatively wiped his feet with her hair. Simon was repulsed–such a woman did not even deserve to enter his house! Here is how Jesus responded in that tense atmosphere:

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 me 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–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

Why is it, I ask myself, that the church sometimes conveys the spirit of Simon the Pharisee rather than that of the forgiven woman? Why is it that I often do? – Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing about Grace?

He Loves us Like That

He looked into their eyes, both of them.

He shouldn’t have even been talking with the woman at the well because of her race. The woman with the issue of blood shouldn’t have even been near Him because of her uncleanliness. I shouldn’t even be allowed to approach Holy God because of my sin.

But Jesus. He looked into their eyes. He stopped what He was doing, stopped in the hustle and bustle of the day. And His gentle voice held their hearts as He spoke, “Daughter.”

We are just like them.

I am the Samaritan woman hiding from my sin in the heat of the day. My secrets take different forms than 5 former husbands, but I hide them just the same, down deep so that people won’t see. I wonder why He is even speaking to me, so ordinary. Doesn’t He know my faults? He does. And His desire is to heal, to comfort, to uplift. His desire is that I would know the lines under his eyes and the beads of sweat on his forehead and the lilt of his voice just as intimately as she did. My sin leaves me thirsty and I long for living water. I yearn for it and He gives it freely.

I am the woman with the issue of blood – persistent sickness in need of a Healer. Except I am a woman with the issue of sin instead, in need of a Savior to wash me clean. I am chasing after Him, reaching toward Him, longing just to touch the hem of His robe. And He is not far off. He turns toward me the way He turned toward her, kneels down, cups my chin in His hand.

“Daughter,” He says.

Can you hear Him?

And His words to us are the same as they were to those two. “You faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

He has made us well! Hallelujah! He has made us well and He has given us peace.

We are healed from our depravity, our iniquity, our wickedness. We are given peace from our struggling, our striving, our hurt. He loves us like that.

By Katie Davis, author of Kisses from Katie, shared from her blog post: April 16, 2015

All of Life is a Pure Gift

Resentment and gratitude cannot coexist, since resentment blocks the perception and experience of life as a gift. My resentment tells me that I don’t receive what I deserve. It always manifests itself in envy.

Gratitude, however, goes beyond the “mine” and “thine” and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. … Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to be grateful when I am criticized … I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty … I can choose to listen to the voices that forgive and to look at the faces that smile, even while I still hear words of revenge and see grimaces of hatred.

There is always the choice between resentment and gratitude because God has appeared in my darkness, urged me to come home, and declared in a voice filled with affection: “You are with me always, and all I have is yours.”

There is the option to look into the eyes of the One who came out to search for me and see therein that all I am and all I have is pure gift calling for gratitude.

Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son