"Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." (Luke 7:47)
This is a great story about a woman who was notably a "sinner" and a man who was a Pharisee.
The main idea of this story is not a contrast between a wicked person and a righteous person.
The point of this verse is not that wicked people who get saved end up loving the Lord more, while morally upstanding people who get saved end up loving the Lord less.
The point of this story has to do with a person's estimation of himself. Typically a "sinner" who gets saved is deeply and sincerely grateful for his salvation, because he realizes that he is utterly undeserving. A Pharisee, on the other hand, who gets saved, is typically not as grateful for his salvation.
Why? Is it because he wasn't quite so bad, not so wretched, not so despicable?
No. The reason why a redeemed Pharisee isn't as grateful as a sinner is not because the Pharisee has been forgiven less. It's because the Pharisee doesn't REALIZE just how much he's been forgiven!
Pharisees could be compared to middle-class Americans, or better yet, to second-generation Christians, especially young people, who have never found themselves sunk in the overwhelming mire of sin.
So what is the application then? We, who have never experienced the pain, shame, and regret of heinous sin must remember that we are no different--no less vulnerable--no less depraved--no less culpable than those who have taken the road of sin to its end. Were it not for the grace of God we would be no better than they!!
As preachers, we must preach hard on the exceeding sinfulness of sin (especially the sins that are less apparent and more commonly accepted). We must constantly remind our listeners of how wretched we truly are, and how undeserving we are of God's grace. We should always remember that, if it weren't for God's grace, I would be in the same heap of trouble as the vilest criminals of our day.
We must always remember also, that the sins of the heart are just as wicked as those of the hands, and that God's forgiveness is sufficient to release us from every sin.
No saved person should rightfully be any less grateful than another. If there are differences in gratitude, it is not because one was forgiven much, while another was forgiven less. The fact is that all redeemed sinners have been forgiven infinitely much; it's just that some don't quite realize how much.
Let's be sure to humbly acknowledge how wretched and how undeserving we really are, and how gracious and merciful God was when He sent His Son to Calvary!