Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Getting Grateful

The problem does not lie in our lack of action, but in our lack of gratitude. When we get grateful, we will act.

Simon the Pharisee had invited Jesus to dine at his house. As they were reclining at the table a woman of ill repute showed up. In that culture, one did not sit to eat as we do, but leaned on one elbow toward a low table. The poor were allowed to drift in for handouts and thus the woman
slipped in. The woman stopped at Jesus’ feet. As Simon and Jesus ate, the woman wept, her tears falling on Jesus’ feet. Impulsively, she wiped them with her hair. Without thought, she kissed the clean feet. With abandon she poured expensive perfume on them. With abandon, no thought of propriety she expressed her love for Jesus.

Simon harrumphed. "If Jesus was really a prophet, he would know the kind of woman is touching him and would NEVER allow such a thing to happen." It’s a scary thing to think such thoughts around God. Though Simon’s words were not spoken aloud...

40 Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. 41 "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii (20 months wages), and the other fifty (2 months wages). 42 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?" 43 Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 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 (NIV)

Simon had not even offered Jesus the most basic of common courtesies. Ordinarily a servant would wash guests’ dust caked feet as they entered the home. Simon didn’t even offer a basin for Jesus to wash his own feet. A kiss, much like our handshake, was a common practice to welcome a guest. To place a drop of perfumed oil on an honored guests’ head was simply being considerate. Simon did none of it, but the woman, probably without forethought, took care of those courtesies with abandon.

The problem did not lie in Simon’s lack of action, but in his lack of gratitude. The woman reveals to us important truths.




Our actions simply flow out of a heart full of appreciation. The difference between Simon and the woman is that she knew the truth of who she was and what she owed Jesus. He gravely mistakenly thought he was a good person.

We need to "get grateful" to get our actions right. How? Adopt 3 realities.


The sinful woman knew that, but Simon thought he deserved much. Religion always teaches us that if we do more good than bad then we deserve God’s love and rewards. Problem is that it is just not true. At the moment of committing one sin, we deserve nothing but hell.


The sinful woman knew she was guilty of much sexual sin. Simon was comparing himself to her and others who were murderers, adulterers, thieves and the like. Problem is that we have to compare ourselves to Jesus. If we are not that good, we are not good enough.

Take a moment here. Think about what you would consider your very worst sin. Got it? Now email it to everyone in your address book. No, wait, I was just kidding. But it did send a chill up your spine, didn’t it? Why? Because we are GUILTY. However, if you have accepted Christ as personal
savior, God has completely erased it, buried in the deepest part of the ocean and doesn’t even remember it anymore.

We have been forgiven so very, very much.

3. Our forgiveness cost God exorbitantly.

We can easily become so familiar with the idea that Jesus forgives us that we forget how much it cost. The Father sent His very own son to die in your place so you could be stamped "NOT GUILTY", given the love and presence of Almighty God and welcomed into heaven someday. God did not take that lightly. It cost Him the lashes on Jesus’ back, the thorns stabbing his head, the nails in his hands and feet, the spear in his side. And worst of all, it cost Jesus being abandoned by His father, separation from God – the true meaning of hell. The agony caused him to cry out just before he died,
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Mark 15:34b (NIV)

The human race was literally racing to hell without hope when God stepped in. And it cost Him everything.

When we live with these realities undergirding our attitude toward life, WE WILL BE GRATEFUL. We will love, we will serve, we will give with abandon toward God and others.

As you think about your actions over the past week, which are you most like, Simon or the woman? C’mon, be honest. I challenge you to get grateful this Thanksgiving week. It leads to experiencing God and hearing His words of approval,

48 Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." 49 The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" 50 Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

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