Forgiven Much or Forgiven Little?
Jesus said, “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.” Luke 7:47 NLT
Simon, a Pharisee, invited Jesus to dinner. As they ate, a woman “who had lived a sinful life” entered the room (Luke 7:36). Weeping, she knelt before Jesus, opened a jar of perfume, anointed His feet, and then wiped them dry with her hair.
Simon, perhaps too shocked to speak, thought, If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner (v. 39).
Jesus, of course, not only knew the woman’s story but also Simon’s. So Jesus told His host a short parable about two men who were indebted to a moneylender. One man’s debt was large, the other’s small. Both were unable to pay, but the moneylender canceled each man’s debt. Jesus then asked Simon, “Now which of them will love him more?” (v. 42).
Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled” (v. 43). And he was correct.
Jesus’s next question drove home His point. “Do you see this woman?” Of course, Simon had seen the woman physically, but he hadn’t seen her heart—as Jesus had. Simon saw only a “sinner”; Jesus saw her repentant, grateful heart (vv. 44-50).
This brief parable convicts me in two ways. First, do I, like Simon, only look at someone’s past deeds? Blinded by prejudice or unforgiveness, am I unable to see the person he or she is today? Jesus looked beyond the woman’s past and saw her present. He saw her repentant heart, humble gratitude, and sincere love.
Second, do I see myself as a sinner—someone whose “many sins have been forgiven” (v.47)? Jesus said the woman loved much because she had been forgiven much. I wonder if my love for Jesus is less passionate, less public, because I’m no longer overwhelmed by the magnitude of my sin-debt.
I don’t want to be a Simon, smugly condemning others and displaying a false righteousness. I want to be the grateful sinner, aware that I’ve been forgiven much and seeking ways to publicly show my love for Jesus.
Which person do you want to be?
Read 1 Timothy 1:12-16. How is Paul’s attitude similar to the woman in the parable’s attitude? Would you make such a statement about yourself? Why or why not?
Read Revelation 2:1-7. What did the resurrected Jesus say about the first-century congregation in Ephesus? What did He advise them to do?
Read 2 Timothy 3:1-5. What do you see as the relationship between the “terrible times in the last days” and a lack of gratitude and humility toward God?
You may also want to read Jesus Paid It All.
Denise K. Loock
This devotion is part of a series, The Parables.