Living a Life Characterized by Grace

Luke 7:36-50 tells us of a time when one of the Pharisees actually invited Jesus to dine with him. I like to think he was still grasping for the true meaning of spirituality and desired in his heart to know the true God. But he failed miserably because he missed the whole point of grace.

During this dinner a woman in the city who had a reputation as a sinner sought Jesus out. She actually came into the Pharisee's home, and she stood behind Jesus weeping, her heart surely broken and contrite from years of guilt and pain. In an outpouring of love, the broken woman began to wet Jesus' feet with her tears and then anointed his feet with perfume from an alabaster vial, obviously a precious treasure to her. This act of worship was from her heart, an expression of deep appreciation that Jesus had loved her and forgiven her.

This "sinner" woman clearly understood what grace was about, but Jesus' Pharisee host didn't have a clue. His heart was too full of judgment to see his own need. "If this man were a prophet," he thought, "He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner" (7:39).

How interesting it is to see that Jesus knew what the man was thinking. He then told the man a story about two debtors who owed a great deal of money. Both were forgiven of their debts. Jesus then asked the Pharisee, "Which person will love the moneylender more?"

"I suppose the one whom he forgave more," was his reply. Jesus then reminded his host, the Pharisee, that he had not even washed Jesus' feet when he entered the home. But the woman had not ceased to wash his feet and kiss them. "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."

This is an important word to us as parents. Sometimes we feel that we need to play the role of the Holy Spirit in our children's lives and impose great guilt on them so they will be hesitant to sin anymore. But I don't see this in the life of Jesus. Yes, Jesus always called his disciples and followers to the highest standards. He taught that he came to fulfill the law and that all the commandments of God were of utmost importance (Matthew 5:17- 20). And yet, wherever he went, Jesus proclaimed forgiveness and extended his gracious forgiveness to all who sought him—including tax collectors, prostitutes, and even a thief on the cross. He maintained this same attitude of gentle and gracious forgiveness toward the disciples even as they abandoned him at the cross. Jesus took the time to personally talk to them about sin and to offer them grace. And it was this gracious forgiveness, I believe, that opened their hearts so that they "loved much."

Our children need the same kind of gentle graciousness from us if they are to learn to share their vulnerability, to confess their own sin, and to be free to love. If they fear our strong condemnation and possible rejection, they will hide their sin, perhaps even deceive themselves about the nature of it. They will definitely not avail themselves of our mature direction in their lives.

"Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" ~Romans 2:4

How specifically does God want you to extend his grace to your children so that His kindness, through you, will lead them to repentance?

Precious Redeemer,

Thank you for the compassionate grace you showed in redeeming us and dying for us when we were yet sinners.  Help us to visualize ourselves as extensions of your forgiving and redeeming grace to our children. Please help them learn how to give grace at home, so that they might do the same for the people you bring into their lives.