Saturday, October 17, 2015
How Willing Are We?
If you were to ask me if I am willing to give up things for Jesus, I'd say, "yes, of course." (See my recent post Confronting my god, HGTV) We give money every month to our church; we support two Compassion kids; we try to use our financial blessings to help others. Going into this past Sunday, I was feeling pretty confident in my "giving attitude."
I was sitting in Sunday school and the teacher rather briefly brushed over the story of Mary anointing Christ with the expensive oil. Listen folks, I grew up in church. I probably heard this story before I was old enough to talk. Very basic story. Woman loves Jesus. Pours expensive oil on his head and feet. She wipes his feet with her hair. The disciples complain about the money wasted. Jesus rebukes them. THE END. But this time I saw the story in an entirely new light. I can't get these thoughts out of my mind.
Now, humor me for just a few moments? I know that the story I gave above is basically what the Bible states, but what if we stop and try to put ourselves in Mary's shoes--um--sandals. Would you do me a favor and just read the story one more time? It’s only a few verses, but they pack a big punch…
While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head. remarking to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they were scolding her. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me.
First of all, scholars equate 300 pence or denarii to be about a year's salary (one would be roughly equivalent to a day's wage). Did that just make you wince a bit? I did. A YEAR'S SALARY. That's a whole lot of moolah! Now we don't know whether she worked 3 jobs to save up for this expensive gift for her Lord or if she was gifted with the costly perfume, but no matter how she acquired the vial of expensive oil or perfume, the point is it was really expensive. The average yearly salary in the US is a little over $46K. Are you gaining some perspective yet? To put this practically, let's say you have been saving up to buy your dream vehicle, and on the way to the dealership, you suddenly feel led to drive to your church and hand them a check for $46K. People would think you were insane and that you totally wasted the money. And that's exactly how the disciples responded in Mark 14. But Jesus rebuked them.
Here we are, 21st century Christians thinking we are oh-so-spiritual because we give 10% to Jesus. If we stick with our average American example, that's $4,600 a year. Now, the issue I'm trying to present, is not that $4,600 is not enough and it needs to be $46K and you should live in a shack to make that happen, but what I am trying to express, and the truth that has overwhelmed me for the last week, is how incredible Mary's gift truly was. To me, a “bottle of expensive perfume” was a nice gift, but not a sacrificial gift when I read the story. The most expensive perfume you can purchase at Macy’s is $300. We blow that on silly things. But this wasn’t a day’s salary, or even a week’s…it was costly. But there’s nothing in the Biblical account that makes us think she hesitated for a second to bestow her beloved and costly treasure on her Savior, her greatest treasure.
Now if I was the one in the situation, I would probably have dripped several drops on Jesus, after all He is deserving of all reverence and honor, and I would have felt quite pleased with my gift, but that’s not what Mary did. The Bible says she broke it open and poured it all out for Christ. She had no intentions of saving some for herself. I have no idea if this concept convicts another person in the world, but o my soul, am I convicted. I’m having a hard time even putting this into words because I’m so overwhelmed at my lack of willingness to give all to Christ. I want to be willing, but last Sunday when I had to ask myself, “Vickibeth, would you give up your entire year’s salary if Jesus asked you to?” I am afraid my answer was a silent, shameful, looking at my feet response.
So I challenge you to examine your heart. Ask yourself the difficult question, “If given the opportunity that Mary had, what would I have given Him?” The truth is, we have opportunities to give to Jesus all the time with our finances, our time, our talents, our hearts. The question is, what will you do with these things? Will you bestow them with abandon on your glorious Savior? Or will you continue to live the American dream, and drop small tokens of your time, finances, and heart on Jesus expecting Him to be satisfied with your token when He gave you His all?