If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.
Luke 7:47 MSG
Sometimes I wish I had a scandalous testimony of how I became a Christian. “I was raised in a Christian home” isn’t quite as exciting as a dramatic conversion story. I’ve noticed that people who come to faith later in life are often more passionate about telling others about it than I am. It’s possibly because they can see the clear before and after in their life – how much God has forgiven them and what a difference that’s made.
There’s a similar thing going on in this passage. Simon the Pharisee is feeling awkward. A ‘sinful woman’ has just burst into his home weeping, poured perfume over Jesus’ feet and cleaned them with her hair. He doesn’t understand why she’s done it.
Jesus tells him a story about two men who owed money to a debt collector (you can read the whole thing here). When the debt collector cancels both debts, it is the man who owed more who is more thankful. Forgiveness, he says, works the same way. This woman has been told by society that she’s worthless because of the way she’s lived – but Jesus comes along, acknowledges her and tells her she is forgiven for everything. No wonder she acts the way she does. And no wonder that Simon, a Pharisee who strictly follows religious law, just doesn’t get it.
I don’t like to talk about ‘sin’ and ‘punishment’, I’d much rather focus on the good stuff, like God’s love for one. But you actually can’t fully get the picture of God’s love without realising what Jesus has done for you, personally – what he’s saved you from.
My moment of realisation comes from my habit of making the same mistakes over again. Occasionally I’ll be original and make new ones, but usually it’s the same old things. I’ll say, “What an idiot, I know I shouldn’t have done or said that” and then 2 weeks or 2 months later, there I am doing it again.
When that happens I bring it to God, but for some reason I find it hard to accept forgiveness straight away. I feel like God and I have to have a cooling off period – like when parents send their children for Time Out to think about what they’ve done. I’ll sit on my bed like I’m sitting on the naughty step and say sorry 100 times over. I don’t feel like I can just walk up to him, hug it out and be mates again.
But Jesus doesn’t do Time Out. He forgives us and that’s it. In Isaiah it says, “I will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again” (read it here). For me, that’s the moment when I burst into Simon’s house and break down at Jesus’ feet. It’s when I realise that even when I act like a broken record Jesus still loves me – and he’ll keep on loving me no matter what.
Whatever that moment is for you, don’t be afraid of it. Forgiveness leads to freedom – and freedom is worth crashing the party for.
Beth Keeping is a singer/songwriter from the UK. You can follow her on Instagram at @bethkeeping and keep up to date with her musical journey.