Updated: May 1, 2020
Have you ever been in a group setting, where each person in the group has shared the story of how they became a Christian? How easy it can become, to begin 'comparing' the story of being saved by grace, through faith, and feeling as though something is lacking in your own story of being redeemed, by our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. I have even so far as to have heard a fellow brother in Christ tell me, that they 'wished' they had a 'crazy' testimony. Oh, to have seen with the wrong eyes, is a deadly deception: do not fall into this trap!
As Christians, we share the same story, through a glorious, supernatural, divine, synchronicity. We, as Christians - in one voice - testify that our sins have been forgiven because of the gift of faith that we received, by the grace of God, to believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross, in our place. We have passed from death to life, because we were chosen by God, to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit, to be renewed in our minds, to repent of our sin, to believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, to be sanctified, and glorified! We were chosen, by God, to live. We had broken God's law, through our sin: through our lies, through our deceit, through our thefts, through our blasphemes, through our filthy speech, through our lustful hearts. We had EARNED a penalty. This transgression of God's law carried with it a death sentence. We stood guilty, before a holy, righteous, and just God. But Jesus paid the price that would allow us to walk free, and the price was His life. The story of how we became a Christian is not about us, it's about our great, merciful, graceful, and righteous God. No matter if your sins were plain for all to see, or hidden and let loose within your mind or among very few people, your amazing story is that Jesus has forgiven you of your sins. Jesus gave you a pardon, granting you eternal and everlasting life, through Him. You must look upon Him! Now, do you think of your story a little differently? A person with 'secret,' or 'little,' sins, is just as morose as a drug dealing criminal, in the eyes of divine justice. The 'white' lies that you've told, earned you the same penalty as the abusive spouse. This should break your heart. We have ALL been humbled before God's perfect law. We ALL have fallen short of the glory of God, and this is the standard that we are compared against, when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. If you've believed in Jesus, God doesn't see your sins, instead He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, you enter into everlasting life and peace with God, and are saved from the wrath of God due to the sin of the unbelieving. If we really understood the weight of our sins, we wouldn't get caught in a game of comparison, thus diminishing our own testimony and witness of Jesus saving us from our sins! The judge - Jesus - says, with a thunderous voice - which shakes the wilderness - "not guilty."
The parable of the two debtors, is a great illustration of the difference in perspective when one has realized just how much they have been forgiven, as opposed to one who has not truly appreciated the depth of their own sinful depravity.
The Parable of the Two Debtors - Luke 7:36-52
The parable of the two debtors is found in Luke 7:36-52:
"One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
The Testimony of 'The Sinner' & the Testimony of the 'Saint'
Here we see a woman, who's profession was prostitution: an overt, plainly immoral, sin. This was the badge of dishonor that she wore, everyday, and everybody knew it. But, when she learned that Jesus was at the Pharisee's house, she went to see him, bringing a great offering, through her broken spirit: through her broken and contrite heart. She may have heard about Jesus, and how He went about forgiving sins. She must have known full well, her sins were many. She likely recognized that in her culture, because of her sinful promiscuity, she was a complete outcast: untouchable, unlovable. But she came to the feet of Jesus, wetting his fleeting with her tears, wiping His feet with het hair, anointing His feet with alabaster ointment. An act of total and complete, humility and submission. Jesus indicated that because of her great love for Him, her sins were forgiven. Contrast this behavior with that of Simon, the Pharisee, and we see a man who clearly does not understand the depth of his own sinful depravity! Simon the Pharisee, did not appreciate the fact that He himself is a sinner, who is in dire need of a Savior, just as much - if not more - than the woman who ran to Jesus's feet. We see two testimonies of people who have sought to be in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, with two very different hearts. From a worldly perspective, one may consider the woman to be a far 'worse' sinner than the Pharisee: after all a Pharisee was charged to strictly observe the law, and appeared to be quite genuine! But the sin of the Pharisee was of 'self-righteousness,' thinking himself to be far above others, and above the need for humble repentance and contrition. Yet, amidst his self-righteousness he requested to have Jesus come to his home, to dine at the table with him and his close companions. The spirit of self-righteousness attempts to direct and lead God, where a contrite and humble spirit comes before the feet of Jesus, awaiting His word.
"...The spirit of self-righteousness attempts to direct and lead God, where a contrite and humble spirit comes before the feet of Jesus, awaiting His word..."
Two different people, two different hearts: one pardon through the forgiveness of sins. Both the immoral woman, and Simon the Pharisee, were sinners, in need of a Savior. Simon condemned the mere presence of the woman at "his" table, effectively rendering a judgment. The woman was already under the judgement of God, and Simon's judgement is an attempt to position himself in the place of God, who is the only one who has the authority to judge sinners. This too, is a glaring sign of self-righteousness.
Sinner or Saint?
If you call yourself a Christian, you ought to recognize that you have an amazing story, like the woman who came to the feet of Jesus, wetting His feet with her tears, wiping His feet with her hair, anointing Jesus's feet with costly oil. You've poured out your heart and soul to God, confessing to Him: "I am a sinner!" You have been forgiven a great debt! This is not a debt that can be compared to a monthly credit card bill, this is a debt that you could never pay back even in a thousand lifetimes. The gratitude that you should exude, for our Savior, should be overwhelming, and it is part of your story that you communicate with others, when testifying to how you became a Christian. With little appreciation for forgiveness, comes very little love. Do you see yourself as being forgiven of such a great debt? If you recognize just how much you have been forgiven, your genuine love for God will be on display for all to see! If you have not recognized how much you have been forgiven - and therefore, love little of our Lord and Savior - then you ought to examine yourself, to see if you are in the faith! If you find yourself outside of the faith, then you must repent, and believe in the Gospel! Do you find yourself relating to the woman who tearfully came to the feet of Jesus? Or, do you find yourself relating to Simon the Pharisee, who only saw the sins of the unbelieving, lacking basic self-awareness of your own sinful nature: forgetting that the kindness and patience of God is meant to lead the sinner to repentance?
Let not the story you communicate to others be like that of Simon, the Pharisee, full of self-righteousness, and void of love! Let the story you share reveal humility and contrition as you fell at the feet of Jesus, acknowledging how much you had been forgiven, glorifying our Great God and Savior! If you are a Christian, never tell someone that you don't have an amazing testimony. If you are a Christian, then you have an amazing story to share! You have been forgiven of your sins, by the blood of Jesus Christ: through His sacrifice on the cross, in order that you may have life - through the Spirit of God - by His resurrection power - alive and active - even to this day!
Grace and peace to you,