One of the Pharisees asked him over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him.” Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Oh? Tell me.” “Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.” Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.” Then he spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.” That set the dinner guests talking behind his back: “Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!” He ignored them and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
I heard a story about a week ago that has caused me to lose a couple of nights sleep. It reminded me of a woman I met about a dozen years ago who had come to an encounter with the Lord after decades of hard partying. The woman was extremely critical and judgmental against anyone with the smallest weakness in her life.
Jesus taught us in this passage, though, that anyone who is forgiven much, will love much. Yet, neither of these people showed the least grace or mercy towards Christians with weaknesses in their lives, or towards unbelievers.
All of us have, in our walk with the Lord, encountered the Pharisee Christian. These are the ones who probably grew up in a Christian home and who never sinned very much. They toe a harsh line and demand that same harsh line out of everyone they encounter. Their self-righteousness causes them to judge others with little grace or mercy.
These Pharisee Christians meet the rule Jesus spoke here to another Pharisee. These have been forgiven little and so love little. Because of the small amounts of grace and mercy needed to redeem them, they have not come to an understanding of the depth of God’s grace and mercy. They fulfill the rule.
Then what of these people we encounter, rare though they be, that have been forgiven truckloads of sins, and yet they are harsh taskmasters when it comes to forgiving others? It has cost me many hours of sleep, but I have finally come to a shocking conclusion:
RIGHTEOUSNESS IS NOT A FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT!!!!!
Jesus gives to us the acid test of identifying a believer: “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? (Matthew 7:16)” Paul identifies for us what these nine fruit of the Spirit are:
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Did you notice that righteousness is not on the list? In our culture, much importance is placed on living a “good life” and being a “good person” and yet, there’s nothing about that in this list, or, rather, this list defines what a “good person” is.
Jesus never said that you would recognize his servants by their morals or their ethics or by their ability to obey the ten commandments. You would know his servants by these nine fruit.
So where does that leave us with these people who appear to have cleaned up their lives and yet judge others so harshly?
If those who have been forgiven much, love much and these people love little, then the only remaining conclusion is that they haven’t been forgiven at all. They may have come to the Lord and ask for help and the Lord may indeed have cleaned up their lives, but the forgiveness is gone. How is this possible?
At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”
Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven. “The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market. “The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt. “The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’ “The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid.
When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king. “The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”
The servant in this story had already been forgiven his debt. Yet, because he was unwilling to walk in grace and mercy, the grace and mercy he’d been given had been retracted. There was no more forgiveness for his sins.
This, then, is the unpardonable sin. You blaspheme the Holy Ghost, the one who forgives, by not showing grace and mercy on other sinners.
Learn to walk in grace and mercy and forgiveness. The soul you save will, in fact, be your own.