“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:47
The story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair and poured out expensive perfume on Him teaches an amazing truth. At first glance it doesn’t make sense – is Jesus’ forgiveness conditional on her love for Him? It can’t be. That would be contrary to the unearned, undeserved nature of God’s love that is so clear in Jesus’ life and scripture. The reality is that the woman ‘loved much’ because she had experienced much of God’s love first, expressed in Jesus’ unconditional acceptance of her, and His forgiveness.
Another puzzle: who is it that “has been forgiven little”? We know that Jesus never “forgives little” – that is also abundantly clear from what He taught. His forgiveness causes us to be completely clean (Col 1:22) and His patience with us is unlimited (1 Tim 1:16). Rather, “forgive little” in this verse reveals an amazing truth about human hearts and God’s love: it is possible to experience only a little of God’s love and a little of His forgiveness, possibly because like Simon in this story we self-righteously don’t think we need it, or simply because we don’t take the time to experience God’s love. It requires time to focus our faith, our “spiritual eyesight”, to see and experience God’s love.
Romans 5:5 tells us “God has poured His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us”. We need time to enjoy God’s love, time for the Holy Spirit to pour into our hearts. Any relationship requires “connection time” to experience and express love. A husband and wife that spend no time together can’t really experience any love in their relationship. Open up your heart to God and allow Him to reveal the depths of His love to you. As you express love back to Him in worship, the Holy Spirit will embrace you and cover you with the Father’s great love.
We know that we ‘love because He first loved us’. Human hearts are weak, and at their best, they are a reflection of the glory of God. We don’t have the capacity for divine love in ourselves. God doesn’t wait for us to initiate a relationship with Him – He comes to us with love, He calls us. Jesus took the first step when He gave up His life for us, and the Father is calling and reaching out to us constantly. We are precious because we are made in His image, meaning that we can indeed reflect Him when He shines on us. We are precious because we have the capacity for God’s divine nature to dwell in us, and to be revealed through us to others.
So here’s the secret being taught in the woman’s story: the more you experience Christ’s love in your life, the more you will reflect it back in love to God and love to others. Best of all, there is always more of His love to experience! Not just at the moment of our first salvation, but every day, every minute, Jesus calls us to ‘remain in my love” (John 15:9). This is the life of sonship.
Be honest with yourself on the question of “how much love am I experiencing?” and then determine to experience more.