"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Do you love God a little or a lot?

Last week I wrote a post about removing our masks and being real. I said that this theme seemed to be presenting itself quite a lot so far this year. And once again - yesterday - it was brought to mind. On the way to church there was a short segment on the radio about it and then I was reading a short devotional which I'll discuss in part now.

The devotional is from Luke 7:36-50 where Jesus is invited to a Pharisee's house and while they are eating a very sinful woman - likely a prostitute - starts washing his feet with her tears and hair, she kisses his feet and anoints them with a costly perfume. The Pharisee is stunned: this man associates with sinners! Ack! You can just feel the self-righteousness oozing out of his pores.

Knowing the Pharisees thoughts, Jesus then tells Simon a short story about two men owing money.

41"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"

43Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

So Simon answered the question correctly and then Jesus goes straight to applying this to Simon's life and the prostitute's life.

44Then 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. 45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

Lovely, isn't it? The one who has been forgiven little, loves little. And she who has been forgiven lots, loves lots!

How does this relate to being real? Because one section of the devotional reminds us:

"Only the 'broken in spirit' grasp how vital and priceless the Lord's forgiveness is. The issue wasn't whether the woman's sins were greater than the Pharisee's. Rather, she understood her desperate need for Christ, which allowed her to love Him more. God is after authenticity; if we want a deeper relationship with Him, we must come as we are."

Ponder these verses with that in mind.

Psalm 51

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

Matthew 9

10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

12On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

The one who realizes his sinfulness and the depths from which God saved him loves God more. The "healthy" think they are OK, therefore, why do they really need to thank and love God?

Devotional from In Touch magazine, February 2010, pg. 15


Wrestling With Religion said...

That is a wonderful idea. It also possibly explains why it is so hard for us to do right - so that we would rely on the mercy of God and have more love for God.

And I totally get what you mean in terms of being real! If there's grace, then why don't we just acknowledge that we are in need of it? What are we afraid of?

Do you think the expectation of "bearing good fruit" puts pressure on Christians to seem like they're doing better than they are? I think this might have happened with me. I always had difficulty with the balance between grace and fear. Do you know what I mean?

Hubby said...

I don't know about everyone else, but pride has always been a big issue. Every time I start feeling good about myself and start puffing out my chest, something seems to take the wind back out of me. As a matter of fact, this has happenned so much in my short life that I am now cautious about feeling too good about what is happenning around me. Of course I enjoy the moment, but I also realize in the back of my mind that it is just the moment and I need to thank the lord for it and pray for more to come.

Susanne said...

WWR, yes, I think we do *try* to bear fruit and that makes us fearful when we can't see much of it. Is this because WE are trying to do good on our own? My preacher says when we abide in Christ that the Spirit naturally produces fruit in us. He says you've never seen a grapevine try and struggle to produce grapes. It just does it naturally. Likewise when we follow Christ, we naturally produce the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, gentleness, etc.

Hubby, I hear ya! That whole pride goes before a fall thing...and God resists the proud. Makes sense. I can relate. :)

Thank you both for your good comments!

Wrestling With Religion said...

Of course, bearing fruit isn't supposed to be your own work... but all the same, it's supposed to *happen*, and that might be a reason to hide struggles. I know I was eager to bear good fruit and glorify God. Maybe it was partly pride, and also impatience. Is it supposed to take time? I definitely think it takes time, but then I also think it takes effort too. But denial just hinders the progress and the lovely thing about grace is that there's no need for denial - you can just be what you really are, even if it's ugly!

Susanne said...

"the lovely thing about grace is that there's no need for denial - you can just be what you really are, even if it's ugly!"

Amen! Loved that! :) :) :)