- Soren Kierkegaard
She stood there speechless. She knew she was guilty of living a sinful lifestyle. No one needed to tell her. She heard the whispers and could feel the stares as she walked through town. She carried the guilt with her every night when she lay down and every morning when she got up. Then the teacher had come. He said that she could be forgiven. He said that he had been sent by God to seek and save sinners. For the first time she didn’t feel like an outcast. God could and would forgive her. This was the best news she had ever heard.
It was the first time a man had ever been kind to her without expecting anything in return. In fact, he said that God expected nothing in return. She had nothing good to offer God, yet he was offering her the one thing she thought she would never have, righteousness.
So when she heard that Simon the Pharisee was having the teacher over for a meal, she had to go. What could she bring? Finally her eyes came to rest on the most valuable thing she had: an alabaster jar full of perfume. It was tainted because of what she had given up in exchange for it. But it was what she had and she was so glad that she didn’t have to feel guilty anymore. God loved her. That had been the message of the teacher and she trusted him. And she was so grateful. She wasn't God's enemy anymore, and a strange feeling arose in her: Love for God, instead of fear.
So there she was standing at his feet. She couldn’t even bring herself to say, “Thank you, Master” and present the gift. She just stood there weeping. Finally all those years of guilt gone. She was sorry for her sin, but that wasn’t new. What was new was the freedom she felt in forgiveness. Her tears fell from her cheeks. Then she realized that her tears were so many that they had been falling on his feet. She fell to her knees, overwhelmed with gratitude.
She had nothing with which to wipe his feet. She barely heard the gasps of shock when she untied her hair. Then she lovingly dried his feet with her hair. She kissed his feet and anointed them with the perfume. What else could she do? There were no words that could properly express her joy and her gratitude.
As Jesus told a story to Simon about two men who were forgiven debts, one great and one small, it occurred to her that they were talking about her. She had indeed owed a great debt.
Then Jesus spoke to her, “"Your sins are forgiven" and then, “"Your faith has saved you; go in peace" (Luke 7:36-50). And finally, for the first time ever, she had peace and that night as she lay down to sleep she felt guilt no more. She could finally rest in peace. But not in death. In new life.
And so can you.
An expensive gift did not earn her right standing with God. Her faith did. She showed love because she had already experienced God’s love. Doing good does not make you right with God. Accepting his forgiveness does. God loved you first. Jesus came to bring good news: that “whoever believes in him is not condemned” (John 3:18a). Love God because he already loves you. “If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (I John 2:1).
So why do we do good? Not because we have to, but because we can. When you serve an employer, it's for pay. And you do what is expected, no more. But when you serve a loved one, you do it not for what you get or will get. You do it for love.
We love him because he first loved us.
Do not do good out of guilt or fear or desire to earn something from God.
Do it not to earn God's love, but because you already have his love, given through the son.
Let gratitude be your motivation for all you do. Yes, for EVERYTHING!