“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47)
“I don’t know how she can even show her face in public” …. “She should be ashamed of herself” ….. “Someone like her” ….
Once, I heard those lines often. Even at a point that I had entered a church one time. Needless to say, I shunned church and God after that. I was living a life full of sin, committing demoralizing and unspeakable acts. I didn’t know God. I didn’t know any scripture verses. I didn’t even care — but He knew me …..
When I first stepped into my little church, three years ago today; as I sat in the very back, hiding, but even so, listening to a song about the love of God; I felt the shame again, and asked a God that I did not know, “how could you even love someone like me?” and I felt something break in me that I would not even be able to identify until weeks later. He touched me. Yes, it was a struggle; but it was a turning point in my life. God’s love gave me grace to come out of my sinful existence and nothing has been the same since ….
There was a time when no one could love me. I was born and raised under the shadow of being unlovable, even having had those words spoken to me by my mother. And I lived down her words. I was an utter mess. Even I could not live with myself, much less love myself. Every single day was a struggle to live, survive, even exist; as I plunged deeper and deeper into drug addiction to cover my hatred of myself, and painful memories from my childhood traumas. Prostitution, homelessness and continual suicide attempts were all I knew. But then, by some unfathomable miracle I stepped into a little church that fed the homeless, and the love of Jesus Christ opened my eyes, and broke through my wall into my broken heart. Even then, it was not easy. Old habits, shame, guilt, and a 45 year addiction were my closest companions. But Jesus had waited on me, and led me out, and I have loved Him with every breath I take since ….
“Oh I’m not perfect, but I could never do that!” …..
Granted, you may never have committed that particular sin — whichever one seems so gross or inconceivable to you. It might not even tempt you. But in whatever ways our sins may differ from others’ in specifics, they are not different in principle. Sin is sin, and other people are not worse than we are simply because their brand of struggle and weakness may be hard for us to relate to. In fact, the admonishment that we receive from Scripture should take our attitude a step further. “Let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3).
Did you catch that? More honor. Not just, not worse, but “Better than” …..
When Simon; a Pharisee who’d invited Jesus into his home, saw the spectacle of a filthy, streetwalking woman weeping at Jesus’ feet and wiping away the falling tears with her hair, he condescendingly thought, “If this man were a prophet, He would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39).
It’s true. She’d probably been a lot of places with a lot of men, and done a lot of things — and felt a whole lot of shame. I can relate. But every person is either the Pharisee who thinks they’re better than Jesus, or the sinful woman, acutely aware of their desperate need for His forgiveness. The immediate, instinctive response of every believer, when seeing the sins and failures of others, should be: “I am no better. I am that person” …..
And if that isn’t our response, Jesus said, here’s the reason why: “He who is forgiven little, loves little.” In other words, our sense of how much we’ve been forgiven is the thermostat on the heat of our judgment toward others. If in looking at ourselves; we feel it’s really no wonder that God would want to recruit a winner like us, the best we’ll do is treat everyone else as if they don’t quite measure up. But if we’re continually cultivating a mindset that understands our own desperate need for grace, nobody will seem beneath us. We’ll regard them all, in fact, as “better than” us …..
“Do not be wise in your own eyes,” the Bible says in (Proverbs 3:7). “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).
Any righteousness we have is not our own! Sure, some sins may be more perverse than others. And some carry greater consequences. But ALL sin — not just theirs, but yours and mine are in this way all the same: any sin not brought under the finished work of Christ would have been enough to send you or me to hell. So essentially, the outcome or consequences, if you will, are the same: “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
So when you see someone who may have been places you’d never go or done things you’d never do — please remember, they’re not lower than you. Through the humble, knowing eyes of grace, esteem them as actually better than you. As a forgiven sinner, be broken again over your own need for Christ’s welcome, and stay focused on how much you need Him yourself. Then you’ll find that you’re loving Jesus “much” — and others more, too ….
Something to ponder: what causes us to think certain sins committed by people around us are more offensive than others, or those committed by our own selves? Remember: there is no greater, lessor, or “sin differently” degree to any sin. Whether she is a despicable junkie and prostitute, or he is a liar and a thief, or you’re a gossip who took that pen and breath mint from that office drawer — all is sin and all sin requires repentance and God’s mercy to be forgiven …
Whenever people ask why I love the Lord so much; all I can tell them is that God has forgiven me so much, how can I not love Him? He patiently waited on me, He watched over me even before I knew Him, and He loved me when no other could or would, including me. Let us all love the Lord, for He has forgiven all of our sins, and let us seek to love Him more and more, because love covers a multitude of sins ….
In closing, what might be some specific ways you could esteem others better than yourself this weekend? Strive to honor God first and bless others before seeking your own pleasure. You will not only be pleasing God, but you’ll be fulfilling the law of Christ in “bearing anothers burden” (Galations 6:2).
Let us pray ~
Heavenly Father, thank You for Yoyr holy Word that enables me to see You clearly as You really are, and helps me see myself as I really am. Please forgive me for any arrogance or harsh assessment of others. Forgive me where I’ve been judgmental or critical, or for feeling superior despite what I know to be true of myself: without You I am wretched, poor, and blind. Forgive me for acting as if I have any goodness apart from You. I thank You, merciful Savior for saving me from the sins which condemned me to death. Help me think differently — help me think wisely by never putting myself in the position of righteous judge. And most importantly, my Lord, help me remain humble that I may be used by You to be a witness unto You and minister unto the needs of others before myself. May You alone be glorified in all I say, do, or post this day forward. I love You my Lord. I ask all this and pray in the precious and holy name of Jesus, Amen ….