When the apostle Paul was a young man, his name was Saul. When Stephen was stoned, Saul was there. Acts 7:57-58 “Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.” Acts 8:1-3 “Now Saul was consenting to his (Stephen’s) death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.” Acts 9:1-2 “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” On his way to Damascus, Saul met Jesus and his life was changed. Because of what he had done in his early life, he felt that he was the chief of sinners. 1 Timothy 1:12-15 “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” The apostle Paul appreciated how sinful he had been in persecuting Christians and working against the cause of Christ. He called himself a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man. The turnaround in his life was very dramatic. Instead of fighting against Christ, he became one of the most zealous preachers of the gospel.
One time, Jesus was in the house of a Pharisee named Simon. A woman came in with a flask of fragrant oil and began to wash the feet of Jesus, kiss his feet, and anoint them with the fragrant oil. Luke 7:39-47 “Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, ‘This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ So he said, ‘Teacher, say it.’ ‘There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?’ Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose the one whom he forgave more.’ And He said to him, ‘You have rightly judged.’ Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 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.’”
Paul (Saul) and the woman in the house with Jesus both appreciated that they were great sinners. When they were forgiven of their sins, they loved Jesus very much and showed their love with their actions.
God loves you very much. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Romans 5:7-8 “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Do you love him in return? 1 John 4:19 “We love Him because He first loved us.” The first and great commandment is to love God. Matthew 22:37b-38 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.”
Love is a powerful motivator. When a man loves a woman, it motivates him to do almost anything for her because of his love. When you truly love God, it will motivate you to live your life for Him. Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Love for God should motivate you to obey His commandments, to resist temptation and sin, and to serve Him with your life.
Do you love God as you should – with all your heart, soul and mind? Maybe you don’t love Him as much as you should because you don’t appreciate the evilness of your sin before Him. “To whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Maybe you don’t love Him as you should because you don’t appreciate the gift He has giving you. He has given you the gift of His son Jesus so that you will receive the forgiveness of your sins, you will be saved, and you will receive everlasting life.
My encouragement to you is to appreciate what God has done for you and give Him the love He deserves. The faithful saying that is worthy of all acceptance is that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He came to save you.