Summary: One of the "secrets" to living in Christ is not falsely claiming holiness, but rather knowing that we can deal with all our sin by confessing it, and hearing we are forgiven.
Living In Forgiveness…in Christ
† IN JESUS NAME †
To you is given the gift of mercy, love and peace that is from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. With that gift is the freedom to truly live!
* The Crushing weight of sin…and failure
As he sits there listening, the words he hears start to hit him right in the stomach. His body begins to tense and to sweat just a little, as feelings of guilt and shame try to overwhelm him, and cause future panic. The words, said soft and gently, are more powerful than he can deal with, as they confront him, as if they see into his very own soul.
A question is posed, “Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon, rather that hearing the question that plagues him, finds a supposed loophole, something that will allow him to hide a little longer, not realizing what he will miss. His response attempts to bury the guilt, and bury the shame. “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.”
The pressure is still there, and perhaps, as he hears Jesus forgive the sins of the woman, he begins to wonder more about his sin, especially those sins that are hidden, buried, as he attempts to separate himself from them. The kind of sins that you are as afraid of people knowing you have committed, as you are of dealing with their eternal ramifications. In Simon’s shoes, did he wonder if anyone would dare ask how this kind of woman could freely walk into Simon’s house? Or would someone ask how he was so aware of what type of woman she was?
As Simon attempted to minimize his sins, he would miss the joy that the lady would know, he would miss the blessing of peace, and so much more. Considering that, and this will sound strange, I desire that you would all more imitate the lady of questionable nature, than the one who claimed to be a religious man.
* The 10% Illusion
As I look at Simon’s answer, There is something in it that lacks heart. The amounts are actually both significant – the 50 denarii is about 10 weeks salary of a middle income family, the 500 about 2 years salary. Simon answers rightly, and Jesus will show him he is correct, by showing Simon his response in comparison.
Simon doesn’t see his sin as significant as hers, or at least the sins and debt he publicly will admit too. He would gladly admit to being one-tenth as much a sinner as her, for that’s not too bad.
Such is the problem of sin, the more we live in it, the more we don’t grasp the serious impact it has on our lives. The more we give into a sinful lifestyle, the more it doesn’t bother us, while others sin bothers us more.
Our reality gets re-defined as sin becomes the norm, not that which we desire to flee from, to be protected from, and for Simon, that was the case. He couldn’t see how great the love of God was for him, because he was focused on the depths of someone else’s sin. It’s easy for us to want to compare our sins to another’s as if we are somehow better. We think our sin is just playing around compared to the rapists, murderers, adulterers and politicians.
But sin isn’t about competition, to see who can be the holiest. It’s about a relationship – and that Jesus focuses in on, when He says, who will love the most. That is what Simon overlooks – the fact that he is in debt – even if he won’t admit the level of the debt. Even if his level of sin is 10% the amount of sin of the lady, he is still a sinner.
He is still in need of a Savior…one who will save him from all of his sin.
And while he calculates percentages, and gross weight of that which is crushing him…she finds forgiveness…
* The 100% Solution
In a letter to his friend and student Phillip Melancthon, Luther once wrote that if you are going to sin, sin boldly. Many have taken this quote out of context, and used it as an excuse for doing whatever they please. But Luther’s quote was made in the context of living life. That we should deal with our sins directly, rather than putting on a front, and ignoring them. Here is the full quote:
If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world.