In my lifetime there has been much interaction with people who find me to be inadequate for the role of Pastor. At the same time there have been more people that have praised me far beyond anything I count myself worthy. Why the disparity?
The fact that all people have different standards by which they judge everything under the sun, this would also include how they judge others. There are people that upon becoming familiar with someone will accept them just about no matter what they might do wrong. On the other hand those same individuals will accuse others they find to be below them in a very harsh and unjust way.
During the life of the only perfect man who ever lived, Jesus Christ, He was hailed by some to be the Messiah, Savior, prophet, and king. Others sought to put him to death. Now that is what I call disparity. On one occasion He went to a Pharisee’s home, by invitation (Luke 7:36-50). A Pharisee was a professionally religious man; many men are religious, some are professional or make their living by it. Some men have saving faith. At the home of this religious leader a very interesting interaction took place.
At one point during Jesus’s visit Simon the Pharisee thought to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” Under the law of Moses all sinful acts, intentions, thoughts, and motives can be revealed. All men become guilty by a conscience that is rightly informed. The law says, “You shall not commit idolatry, immorality, murder, false witness, stealing, covetousness, and a host of others infractions of God’s holy law. If in honesty we look at our heart, we will find their thousands of desires, if given the chance and the ability to get away with it, we would have little trouble carrying them out. This is sin. Another way of looking at sin is the failure to recognize God as Lord over our affairs.
John wrote a letter to Christians to give his hearers assurance of salvation, therefore he said, “These things I have written to those who believe in the name of the Son of God; that you might know you have eternal life,” (1 John 5:13). To them he also said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8). The sinner is forgiven; he then begins the process of transformation, by which, he lives a life separated unto God, for His pleasure and glory. The true Christian is never sinless this side of heaven.
So then, how does this religious leader say, in his heart, of Jesus, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner:” In the eyes of Simon this woman was a sinner, but what was he in his own eyes? Perhaps he was not like many who tried to ensnare Jesus out of envy, in order to have Him put to death. Perhaps he honestly wanted to know for himself what kind of man Jesus really was. What he found was the Jesus who loved and forgave wretched sinners.
Jesus raised the question, who loves much? In his story he has two men, one forgiven a debt and the other forgiven a much greater debt. So who loves the moneylender more was the question. The leader answered rightly, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” Jesus then turned to the woman who wiped his feet with the tears she had caught in a bottle, no doubt spilled over the circumstances of her life and maybe including the regrets of many of her actions and reactions. Upon this woman’s treatment of Jesus, He forgave her. He then turned to Simon and said to him, “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Therefore, the woman by Jesus account had been forgiven in her own eyes of much, and thus she was able to love Jesus much. This is the same woman who has a sister named Martha.
There are millions of people in the world today who if asked the question, “Do you believe in God,” would reply, I am a Christian. They know of the forgiveness offered because of the sufferings of Christ. They know about the requirements of the law, and many are even leaders. However, at the heart of their internal belief system they do not consider themselves worthy of eternal punishment in a God made hell. Therefore, they have never taken upon themselves the need to flee to His offer of salvation through Him and Him alone. For this reason they also forgive little.