Tensions

Day 1 of 4 • This day’s reading

Devotional

Day 1: A Sinful Woman Forgiven


Prayer: Heavenly Father, Open my eyes to my own self-righteousness and help me see how it can keep me from extending mercy to those you love. Amen 


Reading: Luke 7:36–47


This passage has the potential to either offend or encourage us. At times we can see ourselves as the Pharisee blinded by pride or, at other times, the sinful woman in need of forgiveness. 


It can be tempting to put on the Pharisee hat and get upset when our rules or traditions are challenged—especially when self-righteousness tricks us into believing that we’re always right. But the harsh lesson that follows is that when we double down on being right, it often comes at the expense of a relationship or influence. It’s an endgame that feels, ironically, wrong.


Or perhaps you’ve been in a position where sin has crippled you with despair and anxiety, leaving you no choice but to beg for mercy. We all know what it’s like, at times, to need to be saved from ourselves. In such times, it’s easy to identify as the sinful woman who is desperate for forgiveness and willing to sacrifice time, comfort, and pride to get it.


Regardless of how we see ourselves in the passage, Jesus demonstrates a leadership principle that transcends identity: acceptance leads to influence. When we feel accepted by someone, we feel safe enough to open up to their influence. We are better able to listen to and consider different ways of moving through the world—ways that make a difference in people’s lives. Judgment and rejection do the opposite: they drive disconnection and keep us divided.


Jesus accepts the sinful woman despite the cultural taboos that she breaks by interrupting a meal, giving an excessive gift, and touching a man with her hair. His acceptance is extremely counterintuitive, even offensive. However, knowing how accepted she is by Jesus opens her up to his influence, where he dignifies and forgives her. She found in him a new, better way of moving through the world.




Reflection:


What would it look like to dignify and forgive someone whose perspective offends you? What would it look like to admit fault and ask for forgiveness from someone you’ve offended? Influence hangs in the balance.