“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
The mastery of Yeshua’s teaching was that he would use the opportunity of the moment to illustrate his points, what we might call today, “teachable moments.” In this brief passage in Luke 7:36-50, Yeshua teaches a man named Simon, a Pharisee who had invited him to dinner, about forgiveness and love. He does this by telling a parable about two debtors.
Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people–500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.” “That’s right,” Jesus said.Luke 7:41-43
In this simple parable, a beautiful picture emerges of the quantity of love that is typically shown for kind actions. When someone receives a kindness, they want to somehow repay it by doing something nice back. The greater the kindness shown to a person, the greater their sense of love and appreciation for their benefactor. Even from his Pharisaical background, Simon recognizes the universality of this truth.
Yeshua then applies this truth to the immediacy of the situation, as an anonymous woman who was known to be sinful was lavishing Yeshua with repentant tears and expensive perfume. While Simon had viewed this woman with critical judgment, Yeshua pointed out her loving actions were based on her recognition of her forgiveness. This accomplished two objectives: curbing Simon’s sense of criticism while also teaching about the universal human response to forgiveness.
Anyone reading this brief account can be struck by its simple and profound message as these are dual lessons that can immediately be personally applied. We should always reserve judgment of others without knowing their heart, and we should recognize just how closely forgiveness and love are tied together.
As believers, our lives should be bathed in love; this is because we have been forgiven of our offenses against a holy God. In like fashion, we should also be forgiving towards others, which generates more love as they then recognize and receive that forgiveness. If we truly lived lives of forgiveness, our lives would be the beacons of love that God desires, creating patterns of love and forgiveness that spiral off into other relationship circles.
Forgiveness is not cheap and always comes at a price, whether against our pride or sense of fairness or justice. But I believe it is a price worth paying if it results in more love in the world.
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