So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished! Luke 1:45

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Little or A Lot?

On Sunday, we were talking about a passage from Luke 7 and I was struck by a different thought about it. The passage was this one:

36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “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.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[c] and the other fifty. 42 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?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 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. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
It began with the teacher pointing out what kind of gumption she must have had to enter someone's home uninvited. That was something that honestly had not occurred to me before. 
The Bible tends to get straight to the point and doesn't always fill in the details between happenings. I can understand that. It's a pretty big book just as it is. Can you imagine if it had all the details filled in?

That tells me though just how strong her conviction was. She was ready to meet Jesus and she wasn't letting anything stop her from getting to him -- certainly not any social norm or society rule.

I think that may have been what led me to my next thought, the pondering of which kept me from hearing much of the ensuing discussion in the class. 

Jesus makes a point after telling the parable in verse 47. He says that those who have been forgiven much will love him more and those who are forgiven little won't love him as much. Before, I've always taken that at face value. People who have more sins to be forgiven of are more grateful to him and love him all the more.

But it occurred to me that Jesus might be making a point to the host about his attitude.
In verse 39, the host makes a judgement about this woman and consequently about Jesus for allowing her to come near him. He had an issue with self-righteousness. Without a doubt, if Jesus had asked him who was a better person of the two of them, he would have said himself. He didn't think he was as sinful as this woman.
The way I understand it though is that sin, ANY sin, blocks us from God. So whether it's a lie or an orgy, it cuts us off. We tend to want to rate sin so that some are not as bad as others but God sees them all the same.
So when the host sat there thinking what a disgusting sinful creature that woman was, in all likelihood, he was thinking that he wasn't as bad as she was because his sins weren't the 'bad' ones.
Most people I know who have a truly soft, repentant heart are fully aware of their sins, all of them. They recognize just how sinful they are. And they feel grateful because they know they have been forgiven for a LOT. In fact, even the best Christians I know, tend to have this kind of mindset -- that they have been forgiven for SO much.
I think when Jesus mentioned this being "forgiven little" part, he was pointing out the host's mindset. He was self-righteous, feeling like he wasn't as sinful as others and very full of his religiousness. Jesus was pointing out that the host didn't truly love him as much because (even though he was just as sinful or more so than the woman) he didn't have a soft enough heart to recognize himself as the sinful creature he was. Therefore his need for Christ wasn't as great (at least, in his own mind) and it only follows that his love and gratefulness to Christ would not be either.

This self-righteous attitude seems to be something that worms it's way into even the best of Christians. I think if the Devil doesn't feel like he can get you with your own UN-deservedness then he'll try to get you with your own self-righteousness. Remember that movie The Devil's Advocate. The Devil character says multiple times that pride is his favorite sin. I'm not sure that's so off base.

I know I have to fight it. I know a lot of others who have to as well. 
It's a pervasive theme throughout the Gospels too. Not too much later, in Luke 18: 9-14, Jesus tells the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector who go to the temple to pray. Maybe he thought he needed to be a little more blunt.

It's definitely a thought.

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