There is a Scripture that bothers me every time I read it.
It is found in the book of Luke in chapter 7. The setting is Jesus eating dinner at the home of a Pharisee. Suddenly, a woman comes into the dinner party and begins to weep at the feet of Jesus, dry his feet with her hair, and anoint him with ointment. The Pharisees dismiss the woman as a sinner and are surprised that Jesus would let such a woman even touch him.
Jesus knows the thoughts of the Pharisees and he tells a quick parable about gratefulness. He describes two debtors, one has a five hundred denarii debt the other has a fifty denarii debt. The moneylender ends up canceling the debt of both. Jesus asks the question, "Which of them will love him more?" In other words, which of these debtors will have more gratitude for the canceled debt.
The answer is obvious - the debtor who had the bigger debt is certainly the more grateful.
Jesus uses this parable to get to the heart of the Pharisee and the woman.
The Pharisee is like the debtor who had a small debt and the woman was like the debtor who had a big debt. They both were in debt - the debt of sin, but only one understood the depth of their situation and demonstrated true gratitude for the forgiveness that Jesus gave.
The woman showed extravagant love to Jesus because of her gratitude for forgiveness. The Pharisee did not.
This is the part that haunts me - after telling the parable, Jesus said, "But he who is forgiven little, loves little."
I think the reason this haunts me is because I do not want to be like the Pharisee who loves little, and yet my testimony could position me to be like the Pharisee. You see, I was raised in a Christian home and never had a point in my life when I really strayed far away from God. I was never caught up in deep sin. I certainly have had sin struggles, but they have not been extreme. I realize that regardless of how big or little, sin is sin, and I need forgiveness no less than anyone else. But could my past cause me to have less gratitude for forgiveness?
In my many years of being a Christian, I have witnessed people who have come out of some incredibly dark and extremely sinful pasts. It seems that with many of these people there is a different gratitude that they have for the grace and forgiveness of God. They know where their life was headed and they have a deep love for God that is like the woman who anointed Jesus' feet.
I certainly do not believe that Christian's who have "less sinful" pasts cannot have extreme gratitude for forgiveness and salvation, but I do think that it is something that should be monitored.
When I read this Scripture I am forced to ask myself the painful question, "Do I weep with gratitude at the feet of Jesus? Or do I watch at a distance while others do?" I pray that I would be a Christ follower who has overflowing gratitude for the grace, forgiveness, and salvation that Jesus brings. I pray that this causes me to live to honor Jesus and to have a passion to share Him with others.
Many Christians will understand why this Scripture haunts me. Like me, you understand that having a less than checkered past can cause your gratitude to wane. So to my Christian brothers and sisters who are haunted by this Scripture like I am, I encourage you to fan the flame of gratitude daily. No matter what your past, the forgiveness that Jesus provided on the Cross is something that is worthy of incredible gratitude.
May our attitude be like the debtor who was forgiven a large debt. May we understand the magnitude of our forgiveness. And may we be among those who love much because we are forgiven.