Much or Little?
[Jesus said] “‘A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?’ Simon answered, ‘The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.’ And He said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’ Then turning toward the woman He said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.’ And He said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Then those who were at table with Him began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this, who even forgives sins?’ And He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’” -Luke 7:41-50
There are many who ignore the season of the church year called Lent. That is okay if its practice is being lived out anytime throughout the year, but is it? What reminds you to think about what Lent encourages? The mere busyness of life excludes other reminders. Possibly the keeping of a seasonal schedule is a spiritually healthy marker of who you truly are before a holy God: a sinner in need of forgiveness.
Lent encourages a contemplative forty days for the Christian in a non-contemplative world. In the midst of our technological world, a world of constant entertainment, a period of unceasing Internet and social media availability, an era of modernity eschewing silence and little if any encouragement for a quiet, introspective discipline, how many truly sacrifice personal time to pursue something so “odd” as meaningful, silent, and focused contemplation?
The story Jesus told the Pharisee named Simon after an unnamed woman had anointed His feet with expensive ointment, wet them with her tears, and dried them with her hair may turn your thinking to the question of whether you yourself have been forgiven much or little. This is the point of Jesus telling this story. I dare say that the answer really lies in the heart and mind of the one seeking forgiveness. Is your own forgiveness due to many sins or few?
The apostle Paul confessed to the world that he was the greatest of all sinners. Even knowing he once persecuted the church, making havoc for many believers’ lives, this is still a humble confession from this apostle and slave of Jesus. It took the prophet Nathan telling a convicting story of King David to bring exposure of his great sin. Nathan stated directly to David, “You are that man!” This is what it took for David to see his sin clearly, repent, and tearfully and painfully ask for forgiveness. The thief on the cross, seeing who Jesus was, lamented his own life of sin, asking in essence for forgiveness in the excruciating finality of his life so that he might be ushered into Paradise with Jesus. He was indeed forgiven much.
Lent is a forty-day period of time prior to Good Friday to ask yourself the questions, “Am I a sinner? If so, am I truly forgiven? Have I been forgiven much or little?” Jesus says that your answers will indicate the level of your love for a Savior who makes your pardon possible with His own blood.
It doesn’t take Lent, necessarily, for you to consider your sin, repent, and ask for His mercy; such is a continual, year-round need in your life. However, if there is not a season in which this is the intended focus, it may be too easily brushed aside or forgotten.
Do you really think often of the sinfulness of sin? The Bible makes no bones about its great depravity and its continual erosion of your soul and spirit. It is no trivial matter and must never be treated as such. If you do not think so, then you simply do not know the true nature of sin and its deceitful use in your life by Satan.
Your soul enters into the worship of Jesus and tracing His footsteps because you are overwhelmed by all He has done for your salvation. One who humbly recognizes his great sinfulness appreciates far more the magnificence of the redemption he has received. Such forgiveness, recognizing the true burden removed from you, brings a deeper, more treasured love for the One who accomplished it.
“But drops of grief can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe; here, Lord, I give myself away, ‘tis all that I can do.”
(Fifth verse of Isaac Watts’ hymn, “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed,” 1707)
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