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. –Luke 7:47

There is an inseparable link between our willingness to receive God’s forgiveness and our ability to forgive other people. Does that mean that only Christians can forgive? Of course not. Non-Christians forgive all the time. They have to forgive things as trivial as getting cut off in traffic to perhaps forgiving even marital infidelity. It’s not that non-Christians can’t forgive, but Christians ought to be much better at forgiving.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that forgiveness is an option: something that is nice if you can do it, but not that big a deal if you can’t. The Bible says your eternal destiny depends upon your willingness to forgive other people. Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 6 about forgiveness: “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (vv. 14-15). Forgiveness is not optional for those who want to be forgiven.

In Luke 7 Jesus was invited to a dinner party by Simon the Pharisee. Suddenly, the party was crashed by a prostitute. Look what happened when the prostitute came into Simon’s home: “Standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume” (v. 38). You can imagine what a stir that caused! Simon thought, “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” (v. 39).

Jesus was able to read Simon’s mind, so He addressed his concern by telling him a story. “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.” (A denarius was one day’s wage.) “When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” (vv. 41-42). Simon was a smart guy. So he said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more” (v. 43). Jesus told Simon that he was right. “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 she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume’” (vv. 44-46). Then Jesus concluded, “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” (v. 47).

In God’s economy, there was little difference between the Pharisee and the streetwalker. God was willing to forgive both, but only the one who was aware of her sin was truly grateful.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Basis for All Forgiveness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.