When people realize that they get to live a life they don’t deserve, when their life has been invaded by grace and they’re filled with gratitude, you know what happens? It begins to show. It begins to show in their faces because they smile more. It begins to show in their words because they’re kinder in what they say. It begins to show in their actions because now they become more loving and generous people.
In Luke 7 Jesus is having dinner with Simon who was a Pharisee. It’s kind of an exclusive dinner party. On this particular night the Bible says that in walked a woman who was uninvited. The Bible doesn’t really tell us a lot about her. Only that she had lived a sinful life. She walks in uninvited and stands by Jesus. She is so overcome with emotion that she begins to weep. As tears roll down her cheeks they begin to drip down on the feet of Jesus. The Bible says that she gently kneels down, takes her hair, and begins to wipe the tears off of his feet. In that moment so overcome with gratitude, she actually kisses the feet of Jesus and begins to pour perfume on them.
Simon the Pharisee becomes enraged at what is happening. He’s upset not only about what she’s doing, but he’s upset that Jesus isn’t upset. Jesus knows what this guy’s thinking. So he tells a little story about two guys who were in debt and how grateful they were after they had been forgiven of their debt. Then Jesus says about this woman, “Her sins which were many have all been forgiven. So she has shown me much love.”
I don’t want you to miss this. If you don’t remember anything else in the last three blog posts, I hope you’ll remember this. I think this is a fundamental point. Here’s what Jesus is trying to say: (1) There is a direct link between my ability to love and the depth of my gratitude; (2) There’s a direct link between the depth of my gratitude and my understanding of grace.
When your heart has been transformed by the grace of God you can’t help but be filled with gratitude. And when your heart is filled with gratitude, you can’t help but begin to express it in generous deeds.
This woman, on this day, could walk into a room where Jesus sat physically and openly express her love to him. Now, it’s not possible for you and me to do that in the same way today. So how do we do it? We express love to the people he loves, to the people who were created in his image. People who he cares about. Those are the people that we express love to today.
Grace flows in, gratitude fills up, and generosity flows out.
It all starts with grace. When you realize how much you’ve been forgiven, how much you’re loved, how much God has graced you with a life you don’t deserve, it fills up your soul with gratitude. When your heart gets full of gratitude it can’t stay put. It works its way out in generosity. You become a more loving person. You become a kinder person. When grace flows in, gratitude fills up, and generosity flows out. Let the good things of God flow freely!
(Sources: Max Lucado; NIV Application Commentary; Max Kennedy of Innovative Word; Holman NT Commentary)