Before we have the ability to live a lifestyle of forgiveness, we must discover the depth of forgiveness we have received in Jesus. God’s love is the foundation for our own love. His forgiveness is the foundation for our own forgiveness. In order to love to greater depths, we must continuously reflect on the nature of our own sin and God’s overwhelming mercy.
In Luke 7:44-47 Jesus reveals an important spiritual principle about forgiveness, sacrifice, and love. A sinful woman has just come and ministered to Jesus, cleaning his feet with her own tears, hair, and alabaster ointment. When Simon, a Pharisee, saw the incredible act of love, he judged the woman and Jesus in his heart. Knowing Simon’s thoughts, Jesus says to him,
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.
“He who is forgiven little, loves little.” Allow Jesus’ words to settle into your heart for a minute. God turns our greatest sins into his greatest triumphs. He takes our greatest transgressions, offers us mercy for them all, and transforms them into life-giving rivers of love and forgiveness. Until you and I understand the depth to which we were enslaved to sin, we will never love to our greatest potential. Until we understand how vast the chasm was that separated us from God and compare it to our new position seated with Christ in the heavenly places, we will never forgive others to the depth God calls us to.
While we were by nature wholly unworthy, God called us out from darkness and brought us into the light. While we were unable to pursue righteousness, God saved us and gave us a new identity as his sons and daughters made righteous and pure. Before the forgiveness offered you through Christ, you had no access to true relationship with your heavenly Father. You had no access to the fruit of the Spirit. You had no way to know and experience the depths of God’s love. Your life was rooted in destruction with no way out. Yet God saw fit to forgive every transgression you have ever committed and will commit. The Father so longed for your restoration to him that he paid the highest price of Jesus’ death.
Take time today to truly reflect on the depravity to which you once belonged and on the new nature, portion, and depth of relationship available to you by the forgiveness of God. Allow the Lord to forgive any present failures that are robbing you of the abundant life Jesus died to give you. And allow the Spirit to fill you with compassion and mercy for others that you might forgive them in response to the forgiveness you have received.