Luke 7:47 “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
The whole issue when it comes to forgiveness is the awareness of our need. If we fail to love God, it’s because we fail to recognize how much we have done that would completely justify Him squashing us like noxious bugs. One of the devil’s favorite lies is, “But you’re better than that person.” James points out, “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10) As I was delivering the message yesterday the Lord reminded me of the Japanese expression, “Acorns comparing height.” Acorns are indeed of different sizes, but try comparing one to a coconut! When we compare degrees of righteousness, that’s a distinction without a difference. Japan has a shame culture, as opposed to a sin culture like the West, so it can be hard to explain the need for salvation to Japanese people. The flip side of that is that at its root, Buddhism has no concept of salvation at all, so people end up fatalistically assuming they will go to destruction. Evangelism is the process of getting people to accept personal responsibility for their sins, and then believe that God loved them enough for Jesus to take the penalty for their sins on Himself.
People who look at me now, as a missionary pastor, have no concept of how I have been, that should have completely disqualified me from any part in God’s kingdom. I love God precisely because I am sharply aware of my total dependence on His grace. That is of course the story behind the lyrics to Amazing Grace, one of the best-loved hymns of all time. I’ve never been a slave boat captain, but my pride has risen up against my Creator in full imitation of Lucifer. (Isaiah 14:12-14) I shudder to think of the path that would have been possible for me, but God has been incredibly gracious and loving. I have had Americans accuse me of “cultural imperialism” for being a missionary, but my response is always that when I have encountered such a treasure trove of love and grace, I would be the stingiest person in the world not to share it. I haven’t “lived a sinful life” the way the woman in this story had, but comparing my sins to hers would truly be like acorns comparing height. I need to focus on love for God, measured by obedience. (John 14:15, 23)
Father, indeed help me to love You more. Help me recognize my total dependence on You more and more clearly, so that my obedience to You may be more and more consistent, as an example to those around me and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!