“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”
Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
—Luke 7:41-43 NET
This powerful story of Jesus’ response to a sinful woman washing and anointing his feet at the home of Simon the Pharisee used to bother me. I mistakenly saw myself as Simon rather than the woman. I felt like I was forgiven “a small debt” and therefore I could not love God as deeply as someone who had been forgiven “a larger debt.” I profoundly misunderstood the grace-based generosity that God had shown to me.
Why are our hearts not moved like this woman who wept on Jesus’ feet and anointed them with perfume? Why do we fail to show generosity in our actions to God and to those made in His image? Could it be because we have failed to see how generous God has been to us?
Here is the truth: Both men in Jesus’ story were 100% bankrupt. Neither could repay what they owed. And the same is true for all of humanity. No matter how few we think our sins may be, the only payment possible was the death of the one and only perfect Son of God (Romans 6:23). Seen through that perspective, God’s generosity to us is beyond comprehension.
Listen to what Jesus says to the woman: “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47 NET). Simon’s problem was not that his debt was truly small but that he stubbornly refused to accept God’s generous offer of forgiveness.
I am not Simon. I have indeed been forgiven much. When I, like the woman in this story, embrace God’s grace-based generosity to me, my heart will likewise be ignited with love for God and generosity to others.
ACTION: Read Luke 7:36-50. Who in this story have you identified more with: Simon the Pharisee or the sinful woman? Why have you seen yourself that way? Take time this week to meditate on the undeserved generosity God has shown to you and listen to what God awakens in your heart in response.