“She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful” (Luke 7:47, The Message).
A number of years ago I was hiking along the North Fork of the Salmon River here in Idaho and came across a grove of ponderosa pine trees that had been partially stripped of their bark. I knew from a friend, who is a forester, that the Nez Perce Indians, who hunted this area long ago, had peeled the outer bark from these trees and harvested the underlying cambium layer for food.
Some of the scars were disfiguring, but other of the scars, filled with crystallized sap and burnished by wind and weather, had been transformed into patterns of rare beauty.
So it is with our transgressions. We may be scarred by the sins of the past, but those sins, repented of and brought to Jesus for his forgiveness, can be transformed, by his grace, into marks of extravagant beauty.
Those who have found themselves to be great sinners have learned the terrible consequences of sin: They have tasted its bitterness and now loathe it. They hate evil and love righteousness. Theirs is the beauty of holiness.
Furthermore, those who have fallen know they are part of the “all” that have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Knowing their sin, their hearts are tender toward others. They rise up with understanding, compassion and kindness when others fail. Theirs is the beauty of humility.
Finally, acts of sin—however outrageous—freely and thoroughly forgiven, lead to intimacy with and affection for the One who has shown mercy. Such sinners love much for much has been forgiven. Theirs is the beauty of love.