God sees a lot of value in you; God sent His Son for you and not just for a select few. Although there may be those around you who will act as if they are more exclusive and special to Him than you are. In God’s eyes you are equally important. God sees glorious things in you, and He knows full well what you are capable of. In 1 Samuel 16: 7 it is written, “…For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” And so when God looks at you—He sees the best in you, He sees what others don’t or refuse to see in you. The great gospel singer Marvin Sapp sings a song of which I’ve taken the liberty to use as a title to our thought this morning, “He Saw the Best in me”.
The song says, “He saw the best in me, when everyone else around me, could only see the worst in me. He's mine and I'm his, it doesn't matter what I did. He only sees me for who I am.” In our text, we meet a woman who for sure was looked down upon by most of the people around her. She was a sinner, and as such she must have felt the pain of rejection prior to Jesus’ arrival. Many people live in bondage to feelings of rejection and don't even realize it. It causes us to believe lies about ourselves and project hurtful emotions on others. It also undermines our relationships with God.
I know from experience that rejection hurts and I really hate to admit my shallowness, but I resented being rejected too. I prayed about it, I thought maybe God would answer me quickly and I would know just what to do about it. But God’s answer would come in God’s time and not mine. However, I am reminded that Jesus Himself also experienced rejection in his hometown at a point where he wasn’t expecting it. As a result, He didn’t question who He was. He didn’t defend Himself. He didn’t deny the hurt that He experienced.
And He did experience some personal pain but He went right on to the next villages telling them of God’s love. There are several steps we usually go through before we realize that God views us differently than those around us. This woman approached Jesus in an open setting, a banquet, and it appears that eventhough people may have thought negatively about her, through Jesus she realized that she was loved and she learned how to not care about what they thought.
1. You Don’t Care What Others Think of You
I know that I will receive some disagreement, but allow me to explain. Yes, you should be concerned about your reputation but when people criticize you falsely. When they lie on you, and disrespect you, this shouldn’t be something that dominates your mind. If you're one of those people who constantly worry what others think of you, I would like to help you reverse those unpleasant thoughts. No matter what it is that you obsess about —if it is trying to look good for complete strangers, listening to rumors, getting into a negative cycle there is a way out. The late Bishop G. E. Patterson once said, “I had to be delivered twice in my life, first I was delivered from sin and then I was delivered from people.’
When we are concerned about the negativity coming from other people we need to do several things to overcome this. We should first stop over-thinking, although this may sound a bit harsh but you are not the most important person in the world, at least not to everybody. Most of the time, when you think you are being judged, you probably aren't. It's just too hard to judge every single person you meet, analyzing their flaws and imperfections like they're a test you're trying to grade.
I know this because I was once obsessed about what others thought about me until I realized that it is only what God thinks of me that counts and if I try to live the life He expects me to live, what others think is really not that important to me anymore. We need to place all things into perspective; people who obsess about what others think tend to put ‘issues’ under the microscope and can't see the forest for the trees. People who don't obsess about what other people think tend to look at the big picture. You only get one chance at life; are you going to allow other people’s thoughts to make it less enjoyable? Are you going to let someone very offensive person occupy your mind?
In the text you will notice that this woman could enter into the banquet, and although certainly not welcome, could not be stopped from being there. It is because I believe that when your eyes are truly focused on Jesus all the criticism, mean and evil stares, and negative vibes given by others simply disappears. When you truly focus on Jesus you become more confident of yourself.
2. You Become More Confident Of Yourself
I once heard a preacher say, “What you think about me is none of my business” and I believe that this is a good rule to go by. I cannot control someone else’s thoughts nor do I want to. If you think ugly thoughts about someone else it is strictly between you and God. We need to have a confidence; we need to have confidence in ourselves not to the point of arrogance—but to the point where we believe that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I meet so many people who have low self-esteem and little, if any, confidence in their own selves.
What I want to tell us morning is that we really won’t have a powerful life-changing belief in God if we don’t believe in our own selves also. There is a tremendous power that occurs when you combine believing in God and believing in ourselves. People will try to place you in a box, and even expect you to follow THEIR definition of who you are.
In the text this woman was a known sinner. Most people seem to think that she was what we might call a woman of ill repute or a prostitute. She did not have a good reputation. People including Simon the Pharisee had already written her off as being a no good hopeless sinner, unworthy of any consideration and unworthy of their compassion. However, This woman was evidently overcome with the reality of her sin. She probably realized how much Jesus had forgiven her.
3. You Become Aware Of Your Sinful Life
The reality of sin in your life is uncomfortable and sometimes even painful to look at it or think about. It is important to realize that reflecting on your sinfulness is not about feeling guilty and it is certainly not to make you feel depressed or sad even though you may find yourself feeling down when you think about how many times you have missed the mark. It is important to be able to be honest with yourself, and with God, about your entire self. God does not just love you when you are good.
For sure, man will ostracize you, reject and criticize you even in the very house of God. Which is totally against the Word of God, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” –Galatians 6: 1, notice it doesn’t say to totally ignore anyone; treat them as if they were a leper and hope they would just simply go away and find membership at some other Church. When you become aware of your sinful life please don’t do what so many other people do which is simply go on living a sinful life because they believe that God could not possibly forgive them due to all the sinful things they have done.
Allow yourself to go back and look at moments in your life that you recognize as being sinful. What images come to mind? How do you feel when you sin? Share those thoughts and feelings with God. This is what David did in Psalm 51: 1 - 3 look at what he prays, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.”
David was truly sorry for his transgressions against God, and as we read the story of David’s life we discover that the sin David was guilty of was indeed forgiven by God but not without consequences, and that’s another sermon. Our sin is why Jesus came to us in the first place; He came to set the captives (which includes you and I) free.
This woman was overwhelmed with the greatness of her sin and the greatness of her forgiveness. She began to cry, and the tears fell on the feet of Jesus. She dried his feet by loosening the tresses in her hair and using her hair as a towel. And out of love she kissed his feet, and anointed Jesus feet with the perfume. Simon the Pharisee, here is representative of today’s world in that he found this to be reprehensible and totally inappropriate.
Why? Because of what he saw in the woman, he saw a prostitute, a woman of the night kissing the feet of a man who claims to be a man of God of which he doubted in the first place. Here was a woman with a terrible reputation, and Jesus was allowing this terrible sinner, to wash, kiss, and anoint his feet. The Pharisee's conclusion is, "This man is no prophet! If he were a prophet he would know about this sinful woman! He would turn her away, if He knew the type of woman she is! He would turn her away? Now I wonder, are we doing this very same thing in today’s Church? Are we turning those people away who we think is not a good fit for “our” Church.
Are we evaluating whom we want and not want to be a member of our wonderful congregation? If so, we are in effect saying that our Church is only for perfect people, and if it is a Church only for perfect people it is no longer a Church, it has become a place where people come to meet for entertainment; to socialize, and has absolutely nothing to do with loving God. Because how can you say you love God, but look down on His creation? How can you look down on your brother or sister in the Lord?
In verse 40, Jesus tells Simon that he has something to say.
And whether Simon wants to hear it or not, he's polite enough to give Jesus permission to say what was on His heart. Jesus speaks of the parable of the creditors and the debtors and in this parable Jesus shows that indeed He is a prophet. He tells Simon what he is thinking.
He tells Simon that He knows that this woman is a sinner. But most importantly that eventhough she was a sinner she was forgiven. You see, the difference between the Simon the Pharisee and this woman was, she knew she was a sinner who needed a Savior. Simon did not consider himself a bad enough sinner to need a Savior! There are people in the Church today who believe that because of perceived righteousness they have every right to judge others to make them feel better about themselves. They actually feel that they are so special to God until sinfulness is for those other people and not them.
Simon was wrong, along with any else who might have the same attitude today. They are those who tend to look down on others, they are those who enjoy popularity in the Church. They may even be a popular and highly sought after pastor or a good tithe-paying member, but when (and if) they began to think of themselves more highly than they ought to—and look down on whomever they believe is somehow less than them, and are not loved by the Lord as much as the Lord loves them they are only fooling themselves, because the devil is a liar and these people will very soon be humbled by the Lord Himself—you had better humble yourself before God has to humble you.
Jesus forgave this woman because He saw the best in her, when everyone else could only see the worst in her. The woman was reassured, and still there were those who didn't believe; didn't understand that Jesus could forgive sin. They didn’t believe that Jesus could forgive sin because they themselves could not forgive sin although they were also just as sinful or maybe even more sinful than her. This woman, this sinful woman did something that most so-called blood bought Christians have refused to do because their lack of humility and their perhaps narcissistic egotistical way of thinking. She acknowledged her sin, she showed her affection for Jesus, and she showed her appreciation. This was the best in her and Jesus saw it that day. Amen.