The Upper Room devotional reflection for Monday, July 27th comes to us from Lin Daniels of Massachusetts.
Luke 7:36-50 NRSV 36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38 She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “speak.” 41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” 48 Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Shortly before I retired from 40 years of teaching physical education, a young student gave me a red pipe cleaner, roughly shaped like a heart. I attached it to my clipboard as a reminder of his thoughtfulness. Several years later, it’s still there. Whenever I look at the irregularly-shaped heart, I smile. Sometimes I wonder if God looks at our offerings of love that way. God – the source and giver of all love – could perfectly do anything that we do for God. But I suspect that God delights in even our smallest acts of love.
Throughout scripture, Jesus commends any display of love for him. Jesus praised Mary’s devotion as she listened attentively at his feet. (See Luke 10:38-42.) Upon spotting Zacchaeus’ determination to see him, Jesus asked to share a meal with him. (See Luke 19:1-10.) Jesus affirmed the love of the woman who kissed and anointed his feet. Jesus accepted love, no matter how it was shown. Whether we give our love by praising God, stopping to admire creation, or helping someone in need, we can offer all we have and all we are to God and graciously respond to those who show us love in big or small ways.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for showing us how to love others. Help us to share your love with the world. Amen.
– Lin Daniels
Small gestures of kindness and compassion go a long way. As we have continued to navigate the Covid-19 virus, we have seen and been inspired by wonderful examples of grace. People have assisted elderly neighbors with securing food and other necessities. We have seen families helping by reaching out to other families struggling financially. Yes, this has been a frustrating season, but we have also witnessed extraordinary examples of care. As the woman with the alabaster box anointed Jesus’ feet, so we too have tended to the needs of the grieving and perplexed. May we continue to seek ways to share the love of God with others, growing our faith and expanding God’s family.