Jesus’ Bigger Heart of Grace

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”    (Luke 7:47)

Jesus tells a Pharisee named Simon that the sinful woman who bathed his feet with her tears loves lavishly because she had been forgiven greatly. Jesus also implies that Simon’s heart is small—“I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet…you gave me no kiss…you did not anoint my head with oil…”—because he doesn’t know he needs just as much forgiveness as the woman.

Do you want to grow your heart? Careful how you answer—this isn’t a simple, straightforward, or safe question. Jesus tells us that if we want to grow our hearts, we must face our deep need for grace.

How do we do that? We need to get in touch with our sin, our brokenness, and our acting out. Which is to admit when we’ve hurt others and ourselves; when we’ve harshly judged, used, or gossiped about others; when we’ve held onto grudges and nurtured resentments; when we’ve indulged in envy or malice; when we’ve lied, cheated, or bullied others. Our sin isn’t simply the bad things we do; it’s also the good things we could’ve done but didn’t.

The people who have the hardest time acknowledging their own sin and need for grace are the grandchildren of the Pharisees. If truth be told, most of us have a strain of this spiritual DNA. It takes a lot of hard and humbling work to eradicate the inner Pharisee from our souls.

Again, the question: Do we want to grow our hearts? If we do, then I encourage us to see that this sinful woman in today’s scripture is our sister. We need to know and claim her. There’s no distinction between her need for grace and our need. We are all needy for grace.

Would we rather be known as a person with a small heart or a big heart? The path to having a big heart is to see our deep need for Jesus’ bigger heart of grace.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Do you tend to have a small or a big heart? How would those who know you best describe your heart?
  1. What sort of situations or people shrink your heart, and what sort of situations and people enlarge it?
  1. Do you actually want to grow your heart? If so, it’s imperative to do several things: Get in touch with your need for grace; curtail your judgment of others; let go of thinking you’re better than others; make amends for the hurts you’ve caused or inflicted. Are you willing to do this work?

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