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What am I really worth?

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” Luke 7: 36-40 [Circa AD 30]

How can I find out what I’m really worth? How can I find out what’s my real value? Do I have any value? Looking back at my life, I’m unimpressed. Looking at myself now, I don’t know whether I’m just wasted space.

Others place labels on me – on everybody. “Pharisee”. Or “sinner”. Or “Teacher”. But I don’t. I have the same label for all men. Except for one, that is.

But are their labels right – their labels of me? The middle one is certainly true of me: sinner.......

And, yes, also: a “woman of the city”; “S....and the City”. Most men in Jersey probably know where to find me. Certainly the Jersey Police don’t have difficulty about that.... They know my name alright.

The “Pharisees” know my name as well. Not only my name, actually. Some know me intimately.

But there’s another man – he’s different....

‘The world’s one and only remedy is the cross.’ (C H Spurgeon, Pastor and Author, 1834-1892).

I saw him going into dinner last night - into Simon’s house. I know Simon. I wanted Simon to see what I thought of this “other” – this “other man” whom I cannot possibly describe because words are totally insufficient.

Yes, the story above is all about me. My “work” was lucrative. Lucre? There you go again. It’s all about money, isn’t it? But what am I really worth?

Well, when I first saw him I knew straight away what I was really worth - in my own eyes and in his eyes. In my opened eyes I’m worth less than nothing. I’m a negative value – rather like the bankers I know who talk about “negative income flows” when they really mean bankrupt. And in his eyes, well......

So, yes, I gate crashed the dinner party. It was me. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t look him in the face. I stood behind him and washed his feet. I couldn’t stop crying. My hair? Yes, I used my hair. My hair that other men tell me they love. Lies. Worse than statistics – I don’t believe statistics anyway. No one is a statistic.

Simon ignored me. He was afraid I might tell. But he didn’t ignore me.

‘Was it for crimes that I had done/ He groaned upon the tree?/ Amazing pity! Grace unknown!/ And love beyond degree!’ (Isaac Watts, Hymn-writer, 1674-1748)

Simon labelled him “Teacher”. How priceless – as if he was nothing compared with the Pharisee. He didn’t label Simon – he called Simon by name – just like he did to me when I first saw him.

I didn’t have to speak. He said it all – looking at me all the time. “Do you see this woman?” he said to Simon, “I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he, who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Then he said to me, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” I already knew that – but he told the world. It’s true, you see. That's why I was there - to say so.

I’m worthless, aren’t I? Worth nothing - in your eyes. Not in his eyes. My story is in his biography. And my name - as well as my labels. My name is nothing compared with his name. I’m not worth anything. But he told me what I’m really worth.

Richard Syvret

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