There is an important and revealing lesson on Christ-like behavior in Luke 7:36-50. The caption over this section in my Bible reads “Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman.” Before reading further, would you say the word that grabs your attention most is sinful or anointed? I suspect it is the first, that which describes the woman. It was so for the Pharisees, and we have enough Pharisee in all of us to do the same.
With puffed up pride, the Pharisees stumbled that day over their own self-importance. Smugly, they asked how Jesus could allow such a person to touch Him. Why, here He was in this fine home, being provided what was sure to have been a sumptuous feast, and this sinful woman was spoiling it all. And how was she spoiling it? With her acts of humble love for the Lord!
We have it wrong when we use man’s approval standards. Why would we want to assess ourselves by the standards of those who are as imperfect as we are? The only true standard we have is this: Does my life reveal the love and humility of Jesus?
Scriptures are to guide us. They give examples of those who did wrong, but were forgiven and rescued by the God of Love. We need these stories to learn of our own access to God’s forgiveness through His redeeming power. He is the God of a second chance, a third, and a fourth. We cannot out sin his grace.
Scriptures are also to teach us that God desires our focus to be on the good we do and the manner in which we do it. He doesn’t want us to over-focus on the offenses of others – or even our own. In every temptation to criticize another, or our self, we might reflect on this: Am I getting too caught up in anger and resentment over someone’s behavior? Am I becoming immobilized to do good because I can’t let go of guilt over my own wrongs? Am I thinking more like a Pharisee or Jesus?
Thank You, Father, for the many teaching examples You have provided through your Word, that we may abide in wisdom and truth.