She began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
— Luke 7:38
A sinful woman met Jesus. She gave Jesus an extravagant gift of gratitude by washing his feet and pouring perfume on them. Simon the Pharisee knew that this woman was sinful, and he didn’t think it was right for Jesus to accept a gift like that from such a woman.
But Jesus said that the woman’s sinfulness was all the more reason for him to accept her gift. Because she had been forgiven such great sin, her gratitude and love for Jesus was also great.
We might read this story and imagine ourselves as the Pharisee. We might sense Jesus calling us to be more accepting of sinners. But what is even more important is to imagine ourselves as the woman. Every one of us has sinned greatly and needs to be forgiven by Jesus. Because every one of us is offered forgiveness by Jesus, we all have reason to show abundant love and gratitude to him, as this woman did.
Jesus has shown us all so much forgiveness—more than we even know. So let us give thanks to him and pour out our life as a fragrant offering to the Lord. “Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2).
God, we confess that we have sinned much, and you have forgiven us much. We can never repay you, yet we offer our whole lives to you in gratitude and joy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
SONGS FROM A DUST-HEAP!
"Thy dead shall live!" "Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs."-- Isa_26:19.
THIS CHEERY summons to awake and sing is addressed to those who dwell in the dust! The world is filled with them--those who dwell in the dark cells of disappointed love and faith, or who have failed in their life's purpose, or who, like Bartimaeus, are blind and reduced to beggary. Hope has been painted as blind-folded, her head downcast, her lyre broken in her hand. Sitting on the axis of the earth, which is making its difficult way through the storm and cloud, she presses to her ear the one unbroken string, as though catching at the music of a better time. It is thus that in many lives string after string has become broken and failed, and they have come down to sit in the dust of death and despair.
It may be that you have lost all sense of God's nearness and love--not because of any known sin, but through physical weakness, mental exhaustion, or the loneliness of sorrow and suffering. It may be that you have been seeking an experience of God, instead of God Himself. You have been seeking Him without, whilst He is within.
It may be that you are perplexed by the mystery of unanswered prayer. "O my God, I cry in the day-time, and Thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent." Yet no answer comes back from the Infinite, and your prayers seem like vessels lost at sea.
It may be that your life has not realised its early ideals. As the years go forward they carry us into disillusionment and heart-break. Life has its prizes and rewards, but they are not for us!
To all such we pass on Isaiah's words: "Awake and sing, for thy dew is as the dew of light." The dew is used here of the grace and love of God. Instead of dust there will be dew, which steals so gently and silently over the earth. The more dry and sapless a patch is, the more tenderly does the dew caress it! Even to graveyards it extends its gracious operations, bidding them awake and sing with the certainty of Resurrection.
Sing! because your moods, which the Psalmist called "down-sittings," do not affect your standing in Christ. We are all subject to fits of despondency. "The Lord hath chastened me sore, but He has not given me over unto death. Open to me the gates of joy, that I may enter into them, and praise the Lord!"
We thank Thee that many evils that we dreaded have not come to us. Storms have expended themselves outside the circle of our lives. Thy mercy has been greater than our sin, Thy supplies larger than our need, Thy grace more abundant than the pressure of temptation. AMEN.
THE WISE USE OF INFLUENCE
"Ye are the light of the world.... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."-- Mat_5:14-16.
INFLUENCE MAY be defined as the flowing in of our soul to enthuse and help, or to debase others. The law of action and recreation, of attraction and repulsion is always at work, in virtue of which it may be truly said that no one liveth or dieth to himself. The position of each atom of sand upon the seashore affects the position of all others, and the quality of our personal character is more pervasive than a good or ill odour. What we are affects others much more deeply than what we say. Probably waves of spiritual influence are continually going forth from our inmost nature, and it is the impact of these upon those around us which makes it easier or harder for them to realize their highest ideals.
The first circle which we can touch and influence is that of our friends. Our counsel may be sweetness or bitterness, but whatever we do or say, we must see that we are absolutely true and faithful (Pro_27:6-9). Sincerity means to be without the wax which the cabinet-maker may put into the cracks of the wood to make it appear sound. It is the true and pure soul that most readily and forcibly helps another. Do not be selfish in your friendship, but always give out as much and more than you expect to receive. Love is a tender plant, and needs culture. We must not suppose that it is able to thrive without light and truth.
The second circle of influence is that of our associates. The great world of men may not appreciate our reproduction of the Beatitudes of the Kingdom, but still reproach, persecute, and say all manner of evil falsely; nevertheless, we must continue to bless the world by the silent and gracious influence of holy living. Reviled, we must bless; persecuted, we must endure; defamed, we must entreat. We must be as salt to our persecutors and as light to our defamers. It is wonderful how love, and consistent, patient, prayerful influence finally prevail.
We are to be as salt; i.e. our consistent holy living will act as antiseptic to arrest evil. We are to be the light of the world. Inconsistency and cowardice are like bushels which are put over the lamp. Let us put all these hindrances away, that the light which is within us may shine out on the dark world.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O God, that our behaviour may be as becometh the Gospel of Christ. May the savour of Christ be in our influence, His light in our face, His love in our hearts. AMEN.