It’s a wonderful time to be a woman. Changes are happening all over and there are new opportunities opening up all around us. Some of these changes and opportunities are good, and others are not.
Our culture says, “You deserve it, reach out for, and hang onto whatever makes you happy” but God says “I am the only One who can truly make you happy, and only when you let go am I free to do so”.
Our culture says, “You can be whatever you want to be, live your authentic self“ but God says “You can be whatever I want you to be, live like Jesus“.
Our culture says, “Be independent, don’t ever need anyone else, treat yourself as number one“ but God says “Be humble, look out for the needs of others as much as you do your own“.
As women, which voice are we listening to?
In Luke 7:36-50 the story is told of a very religious man named Simon who once invited Jesus to dinner. The man hosted a huge get together for Jesus and his friends. As they were reclining and eating around the table a woman entered the room quietly and made her way to Jesus. She shocked everyone by beginning to cry as she pulled a small jar of expensive perfume out of her robe. She took a submissive posture behind Jesus, and bowing down to the floor at his feet, began to wipe his feet with her hair to remove the wetness of her tears on his skin. She was so overcome with emotion that she couldn’t stop crying as she kissed his feet and spilled out the perfume on them. You can almost imagine the silence that must have fallen over that room as this was taking place right in front of them. Simon was suspiciously looking at Jesus, quietly wondering if He really was a prophet because if He was, then surely, He’d know this woman was a sinner and He wouldn’t be allowing this immoral charade to go on.
Over the sounds of her anguished sobbing, Jesus looked at Simon and told him a story about a man who chose to forgive the debts owed to him by two people who were too poor to pay him back. One person owed a very large amount and one owed a much smaller amount and Jesus asked Simon which of the two people would love that gracious and forgiving man the most. Simon grudgingly answered and told him it would probably be the one who had owed him the largest debt, and Jesus agreed with his answer. Simon saw himself as a righteous man and he condemned this woman for being such an immoral person but Jesus really shocked them all when He went on to say that this woman Simon and everyone else viewed with such contempt, was actually the only one in that room who showed honor to Him. No one else in that room did anything, including most of all, the “good” host Simon. Jesus then turned to the woman and affirmed in front of everyone that her sins, which were many, were forgiven and He blessed her by telling her to go and live in peace.
Now some believe this woman was Mary Magdalene, while others think she was Mary, the sister of Lazarus. The truth is, the Bible doesn’t indicate anywhere that she’s Mary Magdalene and the other accounts elsewhere in the Bible about Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anointing the body of Jesus with expensive perfume, describe a very different woman from the one depicted here in this story. Mary’s anointing of Jesus, as a devoted follower of His, came out of a heart of worship and preparation for His burial while this woman’s anointing flowed from both a heart of regret over the sinful life she had led, and also deep gratitude for being forgiven of so much. The fact that we don’t know the name of this woman is alright because it isn’t her name that’s important here. She truly represents all women; she’s you and she’s me. As Jesus pointed out to Simon, she loved much because she realized the depth of her own sin and how much she had been forgiven of, but Simon, who saw himself as such a good man and not in need of that much forgiveness, actually loved little as a result.
It really doesn’t matter who you are or the background you have. It doesn’t matter the terrible sins you’ve done or the royal mess you’ve made of things. It doesn’t even matter how many good things you’ve done and feel internally so smug about. The life-changing truth here is that Jesus loves YOU. As you are. Now. He died on the cross for every single sin we all have done, all the failures, all the pain we’ve caused… If we’re truly honest with ourselves, we have to admit we all, that’s you and me, have sinned greatly. None of us are righteous and good in ourselves. The freedom comes when we approach Jesus like this woman did so long ago, humbled, broken and repentant over our sin and our powerlessness to deserve love, forgiveness and Heaven. And we accept His forgiveness of our very large sin debt, then out of a heart of gratitude for His great gift of life, we not only dedicate our lives to loving Him, but we dedicate our lives to loving others in His Name. We lavish our love and devotion on Jesus with abandon and we lavish His love on others with that same adandon. As Jesus said, He who is forgiven of much, loves much, but he who is forgiven of little, loves little.
It’s a wonderful time to be a woman. Changes are happening all over and there are new opportunities opening up all around us. Let’s all use the good opportunities we have to allow Jesus to make us into better lovers of God, and of others. Let’s resist the cultural cry of the woman’s movement today to be hard, independent, and free to become whatever WE want to become. Let’s instead determine to become soft, humble, and free to become whoever GOD wants us to be. May our world revolve around HIM and not us. May we all be broken and spilled out for His glory.