Summary: Luke gives us an opportunity to hear Christ teach on gratitude.

Attitude of Gratitude

Luke 7:36–50

A recent report by stated: If the typical stay-at-home mother in the United States were paid for her work as a housekeeper, cook and psychologist among other roles, she would earn $138,095 a year.

The additional jobs comprising a mother’s work were day care center teacher, laundry machine operator, van driver, facilities manager, janitor, computer operator, and ceo.

She typically puts in a 92-hour work week, working 40 hours at base pay and 52 hours overtime.

Hearing this made me think I don’t tell Kristen thank you enough for the wonderful job she does. I realized how often she does things and receives little or no acknowledgement for her hard work.

• "If gratitude is due from children to their earthly parents, how much more is the gratitude of the great family of man due to our Father in heaven!"

o Hosea Ballou

This morning I would like for us to consider what it is to have an Attitude of Gratitude. Luke gives us an opportunity to hear Christ teach on gratitude. Some questions are designed to build knowledge; others are not. Over the past few days I have heard one question over and over, “Are we there yet?” These are not the same as the question posed to Christ.

Read Luke 7:36–39

36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”

Jesus was invited to the home of Simon, a Pharisee. It isn’t clear if Simon has ulterior motives or not, but Jesus accepted the offer. Jesus was willing to eat with the teachers of the Law as well as the outcast. If you check a harmony of the Gospels, you will discover that just before this event, Jesus had given the gracious invitation, “Come unto Me... and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28–30) to the crowds in Capernaum.

Perhaps this was where the woman had first heard Christ. Maybe another message had convicted her heart, but regardless when she found out that Jesus was at the home of Simon she decided to crash the party.

It was customary in that day for outsiders to hover around during banquets so they could watch the “important people” and hear their conversation. Since everything was open, they could even enter the banquet hall and speak to a guest. This explains how this woman had access to Jesus. He was not behind locked doors.

Jewish rabbis did not speak to women in public, nor did they eat with them in public. A woman of this type would not be welcomed in the house of Simon the Pharisee. Her sins are not named, but we get the impression she was once a woman of the streets with a bad reputation.

And here is Simon, shocked that Jesus was allowing her to touch him. Silently, he doubts Christ is who he has claimed to be. “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”

Simon was embarrassed, both for himself and for his guests. People had been saying that Jesus was a great Prophet, but He certainly was not exhibiting much prophetic discernment if He allowed a sinful woman to anoint His feet! He must be a fraud.

Point #1 An Attitude of Gratitude requires Acceptance of Need.

Simon’s real problem was blindness: he could not see himself, the woman, or the Lord Jesus. It was easy for him to say, “She is a sinner!” but impossible for him to say, “I am also a sinner!” Jesus proved that He was indeed a prophet by reading Simon’s thoughts and revealing his needs.

Continue Reading Luke 7:40-47

40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Jesus was a master storyteller. He knew just how to paint a picture. The parable focuses on the actions of the debtors. The one who owed a great amount loved more. Notice it is not the one who loved more that was forgiven more. The Action is in response to the debt.

Point #2 An Attitude of Gratitude produces Deliberate Action.

• Repentance leads to forgiveness from God, resulting in affection for Christ—as the woman had shown.

• No repentance leads to no forgiveness, resulting in no affection for Christ—as shown by Simon.

The parable does not deal with the amount of sin in a person’s life but the awareness of that sin in his heart. How much sin must a person commit to be a sinner? Simon and the woman were both sinners. Simon was guilty of sins of the spirit, especially pride, while the woman was guilty of sins of the flesh. Her sins were known, while Simon’s sins were hidden to everyone except God. And both of them were bankrupt and could not pay their debt to God. Simon was just as spiritually bankrupt as the woman, only he did not realize it.

For Simon to assign a servant to the task of washing Jesus’ would not have required any effort on his part; yet he did not. Had Simon wanted to make an effort in greeting Jesus he could have given him a kiss, but he chose not to. If Simon wanted to go above and beyond, he could have offered to place a drop of olive oil on the head of their guests, a relatively inexpensive gift, to acknowledge Jesus’ position; he disregarded this act. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.

Recently I read an article a pastor wrote on today’s church, “I look around at church people who really, by any standards, just love Christ a little bit. They don’t care for worship, not much of it anyway. Prayer bores them to tears. The Bible is tedious. Their offering is only a token to ease the conscience. Our churches are loaded with them. I ask myself, “why?” Why? They say the same creeds, sing the same hymns. They may believe that the Son of God suffered and died to pay for our sin, but they show no love for him, at best little love for Him. How can it be? What’s the reason? I’ve got to figure they just don’t think they need much forgiveness. 47d he who is forgiven little, loves little. But he who sees himself a hell-deserving wretch, when he’s forgiven, loves much.”

Leonard Ravenhill tells of going to a worship service at David Wilkerson’s skid-row mission in New York City. There he stood with former prostitutes and drunks and drug addicts and he said a short little man stood up and said, “Let’s sing our national anthem.” They all stood and sang their national anthem, with tears in their eyes, they sang it. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. And there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Why? They were people who knew they were sinners. Why does this woman pour out such love on her Savior? She knew she was a sinner.

In contrast to Simon, a woman, with a sordid past, uninvited to the gathering, took a position at the feet of Jesus and began weeping; washing his feet with her tears, then drying his feet with her hair. In addition, she chose to kiss his feet, an act of humility. And finally, probably at great expense she anointed Christ with ointment. With much forgiveness comes much love.

The woman was guilty of sins of commission, but Simon was guilty of sins of omission. He had not been a gracious host to the Lord Jesus. Everything that Simon neglected to do, the woman did—and she did it better!

Read Luke 7:48-50

48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

There are two errors we must avoid as we interpret our Lord’s words. First, we must not conclude that this woman was saved by her tears and her gift. Jesus made it clear that it was her faith alone that saved her (Luke 7:50), for no amount of good works can pay for salvation (Titus 3:4–7).

Nor should we think that lost sinners are saved by love, either God’s love for them or their love for God. God loves the whole world (John 3:16), yet the whole world is not saved. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8–9, NKJV). Grace is love that pays a price, and that price was the death of the Son of God on the cross.

Jesus did not reject either the woman’s tears or her gift of ointment, because her works were the evidence of her faith. We are not saved by faith plus works; we are saved by a faith that leads to works.

Two golfers stepped up to the first tee on the St. Andrews course at Ardsley, New York, one of America’s oldest courses. The elder one was a kindly man who played a thoughtful, deliberate game. The younger man was full of pride and impatience. On the first hole he sliced, lost his ball in the tall grass, shot another one, and had a score of eight instead of four or five. On the second tee he began to lecture the caddie: "Keep your eye peeled. I’m not here to do your job for you!" Thereafter, every bad shot was the caddie’s fault! At the end of the first nine holes, the young man was so enraged that he discharged the caddie and carried his own bag. "That caddie doesn’t like me," he said to his companion, "and I’m sure I don’t like him. He made me nervous. Thank God he’s gone!"

After several holes had been played without a word, the older player broke the silence: "Several years ago a little kid from Yonkers came up here and was taken on as a caddie. He was a wonderfully sweet-natured boy; quick-witted, willing, and had a nose for golf. Everybody liked him. His name was William; he had a club foot. But that didn’t affect his quality as a caddie. It was a pleasure to go out with him. A certain famous doctor, a member of the club, became interested in William and took him South on a long trip. When William returned, he went back to caddying. The doctor, however, had to give up golf shortly after that because of his health. He died a few months later.

One morning I was playing a round with William carrying my bag. Spring was running riot all over Westchester County and the fields and hedges were alive with blossoms. William gathered flowers until he had quite a bouquet. ’Who’s the girl, William?’ I asked. ’I haven’t any girl, sir,’ he said sheepishly. ’They’re for my friend, the doctor--twice a week I take flowers to his grave.’ "You see," the man went on, "the doctor took him down South that winter and operated on his foot. He made the boy whole again. And William never forgot the doctor’s act of kindness." "Now that’s a caddie worth having," the younger man said. "What ever happened to this William?" "He carried your bag today for the first nine holes."

Point #3 An Attitude of Gratitude calls for Sacrifice.

As we return to our text, what strikes me in this story is the boldness of the woman. Simon’s indifference to Jesus frequently is the norm, but this woman in her culture at this time did something extraordinary. She refused to cower under the laws and traditions of the day. Her actions placed her in the line of fire. Her actions required sacrifice. Not only the alabaster ointment, poured on his feet, but also her open expression of emotion. Everyone was looking at her. They all knew her past; maybe some of them were clients. Inside she was probably scared to death, but her need to communicate her appreciation to her Lord was more powerful. With much forgiveness comes much love.

JC Ryle tells the story of an American Indian whose evident love for Christ prompted a man to ask, “What has this Jesus ever done for you that you would make such a fuss over Him?” The converted Indian did not answer him in words. He gathered together some dry leaves and moss and made a ring with them on the ground.

He picked up a live worm and put it in the middle of the ring. He struck a light and set the moss and leaves on fire. The flame soon arose and the heat scorched the worm. It writhed in agony and after trying in vain to escape on every side, curled itself up in the middle as if about to die in despair.

At that moment the Indian reached forth his hand, took up the worm gently and placed it on his bosom. “Stranger” said the Indian, “Do you see that worm? I was that perishing creature. I was dying in my sins, hopeless, helpless, and on the brink of eternal fire. It was Jesus Christ who put forth the arm of His grace, and plucked me from everlasting burnings. It was Jesus Christ, who placed me, a poor sinful worm, near the heart of His love.

Stranger, that is the reason why I talk of Jesus Christ and make much of Him. I am not ashamed of it, because I love Him.” Ryle goes on to write, “May we never think we can love Christ too well, live for Him too thoroughly, confess Him too boldly, lay ourselves out for Him too heartily! Of all the things that will surprise us in the resurrection morning, this, I believe, will surprise us most: that we did not in this life love Christ more.

As Roberta comes and prepares to play I would like to pose three questions:

1) Each of us have a debt we cannot pay. Just like the worm we are unable to escape our debt of sin. Are you like Simon or the woman? Have you realized your need for a Savior? The alter is open for you.

2) Actions are the outward expression of inward response. Honestly assess your actions. Someone once told me, your life may be the only Bible a non-believer ever reads. Are you a pocket edition or a BOLD PRINT. What is the testimony of your actions? Much love = much forgiven; Little love = little forgiveness. You may wish to come and confess your unresponsiveness.

3) Recognizing the depth of your debt to Christ, are you doing all you can to convey your thanks to your Lord and Savior? Ask him what else he would have you do. The alter is open for you as well. Come.