My favorite Bible story is the sinful woman anointing the feet of Jesus (Luke 7:36–50).
All we know is that the woman had a reputation as a “sinner.” At some point, she encountered Jesus. In His presence she became deeply convicted of her sin but received His assurance of forgiveness.
Now she comes to anoint Jesus’ feet with an expensive ointment. She begins to weep—not a few tears, but profusely wetting His dusty feet with her hair. Why does she do this? The combination of a deep sense of her sin and Jesus’ assurance of forgiveness created within her a love and gratitude which had to express itself. Today we cannot anoint Jesus’ feet with literal ointment, but we can offer the ointment of a life poured out for Him. And it is the continual awareness of our sin and His forgiveness that motivate us to do this. This is the foundation of true discipleship.
The other practices we associate with discipleship—the spiritual disciplines, evangelism, passing on what we have learned—are all necessary, but it is the assurance of Christ’s love expressed through His death for us that will motivate us. Paul puts it like this in 2 Corinthians 5:14,15, “For Christ’s love compels us . . . that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them.”