Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more? (Luke 7:42)
In the beloved classic It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey faces financial hardship and considers ending his life in a moment of desperation. Suddenly, an angel appears and shows George what his community of Bedford Falls would have been like had he never been born. In the final scene, all of Bedford Falls shows up at the Bailey home, donating more than enough money to cover the debt owed. George’s brother also arrives, declaring George, who is so clearly loved, “the richest man in town.”
Jesus taught Simon the Pharisee a lesson in forgiveness in this story about two debtors. Both owed debts to a moneylender, with one debtor owing significantly more. Yet both debts were graciously forgiven. Jesus asked Simon, “Which of them will love him more?” This word for love is agape, a deep, sincere love expressing profound appreciation. Agape love is rooted in gratitude.
God has forgiven a debt that we could never repay on our own, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Our sin was great, but God’s love was, and is, far greater. As you consider how much you have been forgiven, consider also the depth of your gratitude. “Who will agape him more?" The one whose debt is forgiven—completely. The one who is grateful—profoundly. The one who is loved—abundantly.
Yes, he, indeed, is the richest man in town.
Consider the cost of your forgiveness with gratitude.
Jenn Petersen co-pastors Resurrection Life NYC, a Wesleyan congregation in Manhattan. Passionate about discipleship, worship, and justice, she also works for International Justice Mission.
© 2022 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.