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What does this passage mean: "But he who is forgiven little, loves little." (Luke 7:47 ESV)?


Luke 7:47

NKJV - 47 "Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."

Clarify Share Report Asked August 04 2016 Mini Alma Kostenko

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
To put the verse cited in the question in context, as Jesus was reclining at table while dining in the home of a Pharisee named Simon, a woman who was a notorious sinner entered the room with ointment and knelt behind Jesus at His feet.

As a sign of sorrow and repentance for her sins, she began to weep, with her tears washing the feet of Jesus, which she then wiped with her hair, after which she began kissing His feet and anointing them with the ointment that she had brought with her.

When Simon observed this, he thought to himself that, if Jesus were truly a prophet, He would not have allowed this, because He would have known what a great sinner the woman was -- the implication also being that Simon thought himself much more righteous than the woman.

As he was thinking these thoughts, Jesus said to Simon that He wanted to say something to him, and told him a parable about a moneylender who had two debtors, one of whom owed the moneylender a very large amount of money, and the other only a very small amount. When neither of the debtors could pay, the moneylender forgave them both their debt.

Jesus then asked Simon which of the two debtors would have greater love for the moneylender. Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more," and Jesus told him that he had answered correctly.

Jesus then pointed out that, when He had entered Simon's house, Simon had shown Him none of the customary courtesies extended to a guest in that time and culture -- such as providing water to wash the dirt off His feet, giving Him a kiss of greeting, or anointing His head with oil. The woman, on the other hand, had shown her love for Jesus by washing His feet with her tears, and drying them with her hair. She had then kissed his feet, and anointed them with ointment.

Therefore, Jesus continued, even though the woman's sins were many, her repentant, loving actions toward Jesus showed that she knew that she needed forgiveness, which she had faith that Jesus could provide.

By contrast, Simon (who may have been more outwardly righteous than the woman) had not shown as much love to Jesus because he was not aware that he himself had his own "sin debt" that he owed to God (even though it may not have been as great to human perception as that of the woman), and for which he also needed to repent, ask God's forgiveness, and show thankfulness and love for God's mercy.

So (in response to the question being asked) Jesus was making the point that, if we are not each aware of how great our own sin debt to God is in His eyes, we will not have a proper degree of love and gratitude to God for the mercy that He has shown us in making forgiveness of that debt possible for Jesus' sake.

We will also not show the proper love and forgiveness toward our neighbors, because we will think of ourselves as being better than they are, rather than as being just as much in need of God's grace and mercy ourselves as they are.

August 04 2016 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

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