My story of walking in relationship with Jesus Christ began when I was a small child. Like Sandra, I grew up in a Christian family and have as many memories of being in our small church as I do of being in my childhood home. At the age of four I confessed my sin to the Lord and asked Him to save me, and by the grace of God the rest of my life story reflects an overall pattern of consistent growth in knowing and loving my Savior.
When you have a testimony like that it is tempting to become smug. It is tempting to start thinking of oneself as a “good” person, a “good” Christian… it is easy to lose sight of the lavish grace of God. I am convinced that these attitudes are at the core of so many issues in our churches from legalism to hatred to lack of grace for “sinners.”
When this type of amnesia and “me-centeredness” creeps slowly into my heart, there is a passage in Luke chapter 7 which quickly shakes me back into reality.
When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.“ Luke 7:37-39
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
… Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:40-43, 47
This one account has re-framed my personal testimony in my mind. You see, those of us who have grown up as good girls in the church can become little Simons. We can lose sight of the fact that no one is good but God alone. Our religiousness and our reputation can blind us to the truth that there is no one righteous – that all of us carry with us a debt of sin so big that forgiveness is something we are desperately in need of.
I must remember that I am one of the forgiven much.
The question is not “how does my sin compare to those around me?” The issue is that my debt of sin is wide and high and deep – and I can call myself a follower of Jesus only because his grace and forgiveness offered to me through the cross is wider, higher, and deeper.
My life story is not dramatic. I used to think of my personal testimony as “boring” – there is nothing inherently gripping or shocking about it. But friend, hear me when I say this – my life story is this way not because I am good, but because God’s grace is great. He saved me out of my own sin and pride and depravity; He saved me from so much pain and destruction I would have brought upon myself if left to my own devices. I am not good – my God is good and His grace is deep.
Over the years of my life it seems that God has beaten the message of grace into my thick skull and sometimes calloused heart. The amazing and freeing truth is that it is only when I am broken and weeping over my own sin at the feet of Jesus that I am able to love Him deeply, offer grace to others freely, and discover who I really am.
That is where I discover that I am one of the forgiven much.