Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Revelation 2:4
But whoever has been forgiven little loves little. Luke 7:47
Knowing the love of God is a factor of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a factor of confessed sin. Confessed sin is a factor of realized sin. Realized sin is a factor of remorse, shame, guilt and self-loathing. Remorse, shame, guilt and self-loathing are factors of repentance. All of this compelled a woman of shame to find Jesus, wash His feet with her tears, dry them with her hair, and anoint them with perfume. Why this outpouring of love? Because He loved her and forgave her all of her sins “which were many.”
At the same table, watching all this go on, was a Pharisee named Simon who couldn’t understand why Jesus would allow such a sinful woman of the streets to fuss over Him like that. To which Jesus told him a story, the conclusion of which was “whoever has been forgiven little, loves little.” There it is again — love as a factor of forgiveness. And the implication for Simon was that he was left out of the experience of God’s love because he saw the woman as the sinner and not himself.
Now of course, knowing that there is not one of us without sin — and there is no such thing as designer sin, or degrees of sin … sin is sin — it wasn’t that Simon had little sin, it was that he was blind to his sin. He got hung up at the realization factor. He had all sorts of ways to mentally wriggle out of the knowledge of his own sinfulness so he didn’t need to be forgiven.
It was in repentance and turning to the Lord that the woman had her experience at the feet of Christ. We should be having that experience every day.
Going back to the church at Ephesus, how could you possibly lose your love for the Lord? By losing a sense of your despicable nature. By going easy on yourself. By not facing into your own sin. By explaining your sins and shortcomings away. By excusing, rationalizing, comparing yourself with others and thinking you look pretty good. By becoming a Pharisee like Simon. If we’ve lost our first love, it’s more than likely because we’ve become disconnected from our own sin and need to be forgiven.
Our love for God grows out of His amazing grace to us because we realize we are so undeserving. But if you think you are actually doing pretty well, then His grace isn’t so amazing, and you no longer walk around in astonishment over God’s amazing grace. Oh, we sing the old hymn and get a warm feeling as we remember how bad we once were, but we’re not down on our knees before Jesus, reveling in the forgiveness we need right now, today, due to our current sins.
My wife doesn’t get this at all. To her God’s grace is always amazing. She’s always in a state of awe because she knows what a sinner she is. On the contrary, I’ve spent most of my life training to not be a sinner so that I can actually convince myself I’m not. I’m a recovering Pharisee and I know how to think like Simon.
That’s why revival means getting back to the love we had at first, and that love is an unbelievable belief that somehow God loves me and forgives me continually.
Think like a Pharisee and you won’t know the Lord’s love. Think like a prodigal, and you can hardly believe you’re home.
A prayer by Michael High:
Lord, thank you for bringing us together as true believers and followers. Lord please bless us with excitement, with energy, and with encouragement as we seek a revival of souls in this age. We ask that you remove our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh and that we will feel your spirit in us. We ask that you revive us so that your people may rejoice in you today. We desire for our friends, our families, and our neighbors to be open to seeking the truth of the source of life. We know that it is only by your spirit that truth can be known, so we ask this day for such a revival of spirits, and of hearts, so that we may run our race with endurance.
Nevertheless, let your will be done.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen