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“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Luke 7:47 NLT

It was a small, intimate gathering. Jesus was invited to a gathering of all the influential people. How do I know that? Pharisees didn’t hang out with low-life, unless of course they could get some personal gain from it. They were educated, spiritual and men of integrity. Men of integrity didn’t associate with people of ill-repute.

Jesus had just raised a young man from the dead and the little town of Nain must have been all abuzz about the event. It’s no wonder then that the Pharisee would take this opportunity to have Jesus over for a meal. Never hurts to draw a little attention to yourself at the expense of a famous person.

Everything was going fine until ‘she’ showed up. We don’t know her name, but no doubt the townsfolk did. She had a ‘reputation’. The men all knew who she was, the ones that would admit it anyway.

We really shouldn’t be too hard on Mr. Pharisee though. We are all guilty of looking down on people who don’t ‘hold to the same standards’ we hold to. Perhaps that’s the problem. Too often we measure other people’s actions, transgressions and evil choices by our standards and not God’s. Oh, don’t get me wrong. We SAY they are God’s standards, but often our vision is skewed. If we measure everyone’s actions by God’s standards we will realize that we all fall shamefully short of his glory.

The woman who bowed at Jesus’ feet didn’t care about how others felt about her. She only cared about how Jesus felt about her. Something in his demeanor, his words, the look in her eyes spoke love, forgiveness and acceptance.

The Pharisee, on the other hand, didn’t see those things in Jesus. Why? He never got a grasp of his own sin. Those who clearly see their own sin are more aware of their forgiveness. Why? It’s not that we are forgiven less but we won’t feel forgiven until we see ourselves for who we really are. When we fail to see our own sin we bear the huge burden of not being able to forgive others.

One writer wrote, “A man’s love to God will be in proportion to the obligation he “feels” to him for forgiveness” The woman felt God’s love much more than the Pharisee because she was well aware of the huge amount of forgiveness she’d been given.

If you struggle with forgiveness of those who have hurt you, I encourage you to take some time to examine your own life. Forgiving others who have hurt you doesn’t mean you trust them, it means you release yourself from their pain.

If you are struggling under the watchful eye of your own personal Pharisees, look beyond them to the loving, forgiving, accepting eyes of Jesus Christ. He didn’t come to judge you. He came to free you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ. I confess to you that I’m a sinner. I am so aware of the sins of others I’ve not noticed mine, until now. I’m tired of the looks of judgment that come my way. I pray that you would free me from my guilt and empower me to show others the same love you have shown me. Amen.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:23-24 (NLT)

During a very difficult time in my life I was unemployed and unable to get work in the area of my training. It was a very difficult time for me. Few jobs were available in the first place. Secondly, there were some jobs that I’d have liked to have, but I didn’t have the training. Other jobs required experience that I didn’t have. In an act of desperation I even tried to get a job at McDonalds and was told I was too overqualified.

Needless to say it was a very tough time for me financially, but it was even more damaging emotionally. I ‘realized’ at that time that I wasn’t able to meet anyone’s standards. I felt defeated, worthless, and hopeless.

When we don’t feel like we measure up it affects our entire outlook on life. We can give up on relationships; bury our frustrations in food, drugs or other addictive behaviors and activities. That kind of behavior leads to a negative spiral. We do something stupid and feel guilty about it. We look for relief for our actions which usually leads to more activity of the same, which of course makes us feel guilty so we find some way to comfort our feelings of failure by…yep, engaging in some inappropriate activity of feelings.

Rehab centers and counseling offices are full of people who have, at some time in their lives, felt they didn’t measure up. ‘New religions’ and changes in church policies are put in place to try to make you feel better about your lifestyle. Nothing is working though. We continue to struggle with ourselves.

Part of the problem is we try to meet up to people’s standards. But that’s a losing battle because some people are impossible to please. Others standards are much lower than your own or fickle. What we need is to find a standard which will show love and acceptance. A standard that will make us feel fulfilled no matter what life throws at us. A standard that will lead us to eternal life.

Sound impossible? You are right, it is. That level of standard only comes from God. His standards are perfect. His standards are loving, kind and full of mercy and understanding. So to feel good about yourself and what you do the trick is to live up to the standards of a Holy, Perfect God.

Sound impossible? It is. We are all human. Whether you are gay or straight, pro-choice or pro-life, regardless of your political persuasion or religious affiliation, you have fallen short of the standards God requires for a good life here and eternal life with him.

So what’s the solution to not meeting up to the standards God demands? Jesus. There is nothing you can do in and of yourselves to meet up to Godly standards. Only through the free gift of Jesus Christ can you find the success to live the life God and you desire. It’s not your power. It’s not your striving. It’s accepting the fact you can’t and living according to the grace given through Jesus.

Stop depending on your own actions to succeed. Stop striving to kick the old habits. Let God take that away. Through Jesus you can meet his standards.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank and praise you for your gift of salvation through Jesus. I’m tired of doing the same stupid things over and over again. Forgive me for the things I’ve done to hurt myself and others. Empower me with your Spirit to live free because of Jesus. In your name, Amen.

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