Luke 7:47 | Romans 6:1-2 | Romans 3:22-23

Please don’t go out and make bad decisions after reading this.

Luke 7:47 is a jumbo jet of revelation to some, and only a soggy paper airplane to others…

“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”

(Luke 7:47 NLT)

To give you some context for this verse… Jesus says this to his Pharisee host as a disreputable woman is bathing his feet in expensive perfume, while kissing them and washing them with her tears. If the situation seems surreal to you, imagine how it appeared to the Pharisee to see Jesus’ acceptance of not only the behavior, but also of the sinful woman herself.

Stranger still might be the concept that people who have lived admittedly more sinful lives will be openly more thankful to Jesus for his forgiveness. It could also be easy to conclude from this passage that the way to next-level Christianity is through big sin followed by big forgiveness.

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? 

(Romans 6:1-2 NLT)

Deliberately sinning is a mistake regardless of circumstance. In the verse above (Luke 7:47), Simon the Pharisee is rather judgemental of the immoral woman who anoints Jesus’ feet. Jesus speaks to that judgement. 

But another unaddressed element might be Simon’s envy of the woman’s acceptance by Jesus. Imagine you were the one in the nice house, following all the rules, and someone comes in who is known to be (shall we say…) morally loose and Jesus praises them. Could you see yourself feeling snubbed?

On some level, the pharisee has to be thinking, “I could never get away with that behavior.” Is that ever you? When someone you know has lived hard and fast, without a thought to the consequences of their actions, who then comes face to face with their wrongness and Jesus’ forgiveness, takes his hand and rides his robes on a fast track up the path to righteousness? Have you ever then jealously asked, “Lord, why couldn’t you save me like that?”

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 

(Romans 3:22-23)

It doesn’t matter who you are…if you put your faith in Jesus, you are a sinner who is made right with God. Don’t be jealous of those who are ‘on fire’ for God. Join them and let their enthusiasm rub off on you.

Questions for Group Discussion

  • Have you ever asked, “Lord, why couldn’t you save me like that?” Can you elaborate? How do you feel about that?
  • If you are someone who is ‘on fire’ for God after meeting Christ under dramatic circumstances, how does it feel to know that some Christians struggle with the same feelings as Simon the Pharisee? Does it make you less enthusiastic? Should you ‘tone down’ your enthusiasm in response?

Application: Think What You’re Missing

Disclaimer: this activity is specifically for those who identify as not being especially ‘on fire’ about their faith, having not been saved from a dramatically sinful or awful past. The language is aimed directly at such beloved followers. If this is you…welcome. You are in good company. On the other hand, if you are ‘on fire’ about your faith, you’ll probably want to do this anyway, so have fun.

If you have ever heard someone stand up in church and tell (or post online) about how they were headed down a path to destruction, through drug addiction, sexual immorality, criminal activity, etc., then fervently thank God for saving them… and you thought, “Dang, Lord… I just remember praying and asking you into my heart in Sunday School. Where’s my dramatic salvation story?” This exercise is for you…

Do this:

  1. Make a list of some of the wrong things you have done on purpose.
  2. Make a (second) list of some of the wrong things you did unintentionally. Things you found out were wrong afterward. (“Hindsight is 20/20.”) 
  3. Make a list of some of the wrong things you DIDN’T DO. Start with any that tempted you, and go from there. You can use someone else’s dramatic salvation story for inspiration (drug addiction, immorality, criminal activities, etc.). Feel free to go as far with this as you like.
  4. Thank God for forgiving you for the things on the first two lists. (The second list counts, too!)
  5. Take an extra-deliberate moment to thank Jesus for saving you from the things on the third list.
  6. (Optional) Burn or shred those lists.