I’m right and I know it. And you should know it too.
July 10, 2014
There’s a story in the 7th chapter of Luke in the Bible, in which Jesus is invited to dine at the house of Simon the Pharisee. At the same time, an uninvited woman joins them, and begins to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears, and dry them with her long hair. Simon the Pharisee is incensed and thinks to himself, “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.” (vs. 39) Simon had identified the woman as a sinner, and assumed that, since Jesus was not responding the way he would have, that Jesus was no prophet. Simon was right about the whole situation, and he knew it. And he was troubled that Jesus didn’t know it too.
How often do we do that to ourselves and each other? How often are we so convinced about what we know and why we know it, that we can’t believe that others don’t agree with us? Judging from my own experience, a lot! Simon saw the woman through his pharisaical viewpoint, one which had very clear cut legal and moral regulations. Then he took what appeared to be the next obvious step to assume that because Jesus missed this egregious violation, he must not be nearly as smart as everyone said he was.
Jesus caused Simon to see his own self-righteousness, with a poignant parable about the power of love. And then he rebuked him for neglecting the common courtesy of water to wash his feet, showing the difference between Simon’s actions which were nothing more than legal rightness, and the woman’s ministrations which came from a deep and sincere affection.
Instead of seeing only the human picture – the physical circumstances – Jesus saw both Simon and the woman from a spiritual perspective. And loving them both, he delivered very different cures which their respective situations required. To Simon, he pointed out both his faulty reasoning and flawed conclusion. But to the woman, Jesus simply told her that her sins were forgiven. Undoubtedly, both of them learned something from the encounter: the woman left in peace, perhaps ready for a fresh start. We hope that Simon also gained a more generous outlook.
Of course there are things that we really want to be right about, but our opinions should not fall into that category. Like our dear Master, we should view ourselves and others through the eyes of love, not law. In fact, as much love as possible, since none of us can expect to be mistake-free. A gracious and affectionate nature will bring about a more ready and willing forgiveness, should there ever be a need. And it will enable us to extend that same level of compassion to others whose trespasses may confront us.
If we’re going to be right about our views of others, then let’s be sure those views are shaped by God who sees only His own dear image and likeness. That’s the model Jesus accepted, and the example he set for us.
And isn’t that as right as it gets?
Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link. If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.