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
When I got saved as a 16 year old kid at Calvary Baptist Church in Salem, SC…I wasn’t really that bad of a kid. I had always gone to church. I had always pretty much done what was right in school. I had always pretty much honored my parents. I just didn’t do a lot of stuff wrong. Even though it felt great to ask for forgiveness and be clean, looking back, I didn’t think I was that dirty to begin with. Everybody told me how good of a kid I was, and by the world’s standards, I was. I guess it just wasn’t that hard to believe those people. I was a good kid who had asked for God to forgive me. Therefore, I deserved to go to Heaven. God, if He made me, at least owed me a way into Heaven. Writing this now, I cringe, but back then as a teenager, this is what I thought.
Reading this story in Luke 7, I can now see myself on both sides of the table. For several years I was the Pharisee who just had Jesus in my house. He was near, and He was available for me when I needed Him. I would look at other people crying and weeping at His feet and think they were just weird. They should have been like me…gone to church, stayed out of trouble, and they would have been fine…like me.
So, here I was, a forgiven, born-again Christian. I had asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and come into my life and make me a Christian. Within a few months of making the best decision of my life, I started making the dumbest decisions of my life. Over the next five to six years, if I didn’t think I was in need of any kind of serious forgiveness, I’d make up for it. All of a sudden, it was important for me to be “cool.” Following God just wasn’t “cool.” To hang out with the “cool” crowd you had to cuss. To fit in with the “cool” crowd you had to have a girlfriend. Of course, if you were 16 years old and hadn’t had sex yet, you were a loser. If you didn’t do some underage drinking, being cool was impossible. Every single time these “opportunities” were presented to me, the Spirit inside me told me not to go there. I can still remember the conviction and how God asked me, but did not force me, to do the right thing. After years of rejecting the leading of the Holy Spirit repeatedly, I felt so empty and lost. I certainly didn’t feel “cool.”
At this point, I was in no man’s land. I definitely moved out of the Pharisee’s seat. I was in no position to look down on the people weeping and crying at the feet of Jesus. In fact, I began to wonder if He could ever accept me like that. When I didn’t think I was that bad, I could see Him forgiving me. However, I didn’t know what He did to people who willfully reject Him. All of a sudden, I was one of the people that deserved Hell. I absolutely knew not to do the things I had done, and I did them anyway. Was there really mercy and forgiveness for me?
For years I stayed here. I went to church, I read my Bible, but I was one defeated Christian. I was just doing “good,” whatever that means, in an attempt to earn His favor back. I wanted to “make right” the sinful things I had done. At the end of the day, I just saw my Heavenly Father as really disappointed in me. I saw myself as never going to be “good” enough.
Then, I met Tonya. After we had been together for almost two years, I wanted to marry her. She was the best follower of Jesus that I knew. I had never told her of my past…especially the sex outside of marriage stuff. I just knew that if she knew, I was finished…she would leave. As much as I didn’t want to tell her, I had to. Looking back, telling her might have been the best thing I’ve ever done. Here I am telling her everything (minus the details…of course), and I begin to cry. Then, she begins to cry. She simply asks me this: “Have you asked God to forgive you?” I said “I ask Him all the time.” She said “stop doing that.” I said “why in the world would I do that?” She said “If you have asked Him to forgive you, He has! I forgive you, too! From this day on, let’s go forward together and never look back!”
There it was…a picture of His mercy and grace. If she could so easily forgive me, did I really think God couldn’t? Was my future wife more forgiving that God Himself? No way! At that moment I realized I had been forgiven the whole time. He loved me. In fact, I was hurting Him more by living in defeat. The floodgates were opened and I became the sinful woman at the feet of Jesus. I could not stop praising Him and worshipping Him. I still can not believe how good He is to me.
I now love Him much. But even then, my love is just a cup of water from the ocean.
His love is the ocean!
How much do you love Him?