Joyful, Joyful, Joyful: This Should Be How Others Identify Us as Christ Followers

Posted: January 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

Luke 7:36-50 — Have you ever had someone do you a huge favor? Has someone ever paid off a debt for you that would take a lifetime to repay? Has someone given you assistance to get you out of a legal jam? Has someone forgiven you when you expected to incur their wrath after having hurt them in a major way?

Forgiveness, gratitude, acts of kindness, overflowing joy. These should be the marks of Christ’s followers but are we really this way? In this passage we see the contrast between those who are truly filled with the grace and joy of Jesus Christ and those that are simply religious and self-righteous.

I love the illustration that Jesus uses here about the debt of one man’s 500 pieces of silver vs. the one man’s debt of 50 pieces of silver. Jesus asks Simon the Pharisee which of these two men would have the greater sense of love for the man who forgave each of their debts. Certainly, it is the man with the larger debt. This is the essence of what being a Christian is all about. It is only those of us who realize the depth of our sin before God that are truly grateful for the grace we have received in the form of the Son of God who died on the cross as a sin sacrifice for us. It is only when we realize who we really are in the face of a just Judge that we realize the “get of our jail free” card, spiritually speaking, that we have been given in Jesus Christ. Just as the sinful woman realized just how deep her sins were and how far away from heaven she was that she realized her desperate need for Jesus. Like a person whose enormous debt that they could not repay has been forgiven, this sinful woman is so appreciative of what Christ offers her in forgiving her sins that she is joyful to tears. She is overjoyed. She lavishes him with her most prized possessions, her expensive perfume. She is so overjoyed that she humbles herself before Him and washes his feet with her tears and hair and anoints his feet with her perfume. These good deeds did not earn her salvation. They were the result of it.

We as the benefactors of salvation through Jesus Christ should live life in the same way. We should be so overjoyed by the gift that we have been given (our escape from hell through Jesus Christ) that we live joy-filled lives. We should be so filled with joy that it overflows into everything we do. It should reflect itself in our generosity. It should reflect itself in how we deal with people. It should reflect itself in service. It should reflect itself in evangelism – telling others what Jesus Christ has done for us. This joy should permeate our being. I know that you are thinking of perpetual hopping and skipping down the yellow brick road but what I am talking about is joy. Joy is having an inner peace and just basic happiness even when times are tough. This is the joy that we are given in salvation. There is nothing in this story that says that the sinful woman’s lifestyle immediately got better after receiving her salvation in Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, in the short term, I bet it got worse as she was leaving her old life behind and beginning a new one. But I will be damn sure that she had joy. I bet she was telling everyone she could about her Savior. I bet she was a generous woman. I bet she served the needs of others whenever she could. These acts do not guarantee her salvation or earn it for her. They are the result of the pure joy of salvation. That’s what a true brother and sister in Christ looks like.

On the other hand, the Pharisees could not see that Jesus was the Son of God. They did not see Him as their Savior. They did not see as the source of their forgiveness. They did not see Him as God in the flesh. As a result, they did not offer him even common courtesies when He entered Simon’s home. They were offended when the sinful woman entered Simon’s home. They were offended with Jesus said He forgave her sins. Are these the kinds of Christians that we are? Are we self-righteous? Do we see Christianity as a set of rules to be kept just as the Pharisees saw Judaism? We are seen as, in general, a judgmental lot by the outside world. We are seen as checklist keepers. We are seen as judge and jury on morality. Certainly there are Scriptural boundaries that we are not to cross just to be acceptable to the unbelieving world around us, but it is our own fault if the first thing that people think of us is that we are Pharisees, keepers of the law without any heart. It is our own fault if the world perceives us as ivory tower condemners. It is our own fault if the first thing we are known for is being judgmental. By contrast, we should be known as being like this sinful woman in this passage. We should be known as a joyful people. We should be the most joyous people in God’s great universe. We should be so overjoyed at our own salvation that it cannot be contained. We should be known as people that overflow with that joy. We should be known as people that help, that serve, that meet people’s needs, that share the joy of salvation with others. These are the first things that we SHOULD be known for. Let the joy overflow. Remember the joy of our salvation. Remember that the only difference between us and a person that is going to hell is grace, the grace that causes great joy. We are all sinners. Jesus commutes our sentence and gets us out of prison. He cancels the debt that we owe that we can never repay. He is our last second field goal that wins the game. He is our joy. He is our salvation. He is our get out of jail free card. He changed our lives from its certain fate. That should make us be known as the most joyous people in the world.

Lord, please let me overflow in the joy of my salvation. Help me to remember daily where I was headed before I met you. Let me never forget that. Let this joy spill out and over into the rest of my life and in everything that I do and say. Amen.

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