Friday, September 2, 2011

Extravagant Worship? Perfume, Money, and Mites

Whenever I read these verses, I stop and wonder how I would have reacted had I been there. Clearly Mary's actions were approved of by our Lord, but I can't help but think I may have complained right along side of Judas.
Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 
Jesus said, "Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me." John 12:3-8 ESV

That was a lot of money. There were many needs. Many that could have been met with these funds. Shouldn't we be good stewards?

Now I realize that Judas' intentions weren't that pure.  He only wanted the cash so that he could steal it. But still his reasoning has a familiar ring to it. How many times have you heard that same criticism levied against a church, individual, or organization?

They didn't need that big new building. Think if that money would have been used for foreign missions or to feed the hungry, how much good could have been done?


Sound familiar?

Things aren't always so simple. When is the extravagant gift, right or wrong? Will everyone realize the truth? Or will it only truly be known by the giver?

I guess it comes down to the thoughts and intents of the heart. Mary gave from her love, devotion, and grateful heart. Jesus had just returned her brother from the dead, how could any response be considered too much?

I'm reminded of the account of Annanias and Sapphira in Acts chapter 5. Barnabas gave the proceeds of the sale of his land to the Apostles for the good of the Church. He gave willingly and thankfully.

Now Annanias and Sapphira saw the recognition Barnabas recieved for his gift of love and decided they wanted their names mentioned along side of his. They in turned sold their land, kept a little for all their troubles, and then proudly brought the rest to the Apostles.

The Lord killed them both.

Not all gifts are the same. God isn't a stockbroker. He doesn't keep a tally of the bottom line, comparing dollar to dollar. The widows mite is more than all the gold of the rich.(Mark 12:42 KJV) It's not your standard math.

So I guess we shouldn't be so quick to judge. We foolishly believe we have all the facts, yet at the same time affirm that only God sees the heart.

If your heart is overwhelmed with praise and thanksgiving, worship God and worship extravagently. Some say give till it hurts, but I don't believe Mary, or Barnabas, or even our poor widow, felt any pain. They were too focused on the one whom they worship to even consider themselves.
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