Are you a stingy person?
Sorry that was abrupt. Didn’t mean to force you into the icy deep end of the pool before you were ready!
Warm up a bit, grab a cup of something steamy and settle in for a read worth your consideration.
Stoke the fire while you’re at it, and get all cozy inside.
Now, back to our consideration. Do you consider yourself a stingy person?
I guess that’s a loaded question though. The reality is that stingy people don’t really see themselves as stingy people. You need someone else to tell you if you are.
I preached a message recently about Mark 14, the story of the woman who anointed Jesus head with an incredibly costly, almost invaluable, perfume. It was described as pure nard and, those in the audience that day, surrounding the table where Jesus was also reclining, mentioned that the perfume could have been sold for nearly a years wages and given to the poor.
The reality was they had no idea how much they could have sold that substance.
Isn’t it true that we get just a bit eccentric when it comes to extravagance?
We turn things into extremes just to make the emphatic point we are trying to send home.
Either way, this stuff was valuable and what took place made those watching consider it an audacious act just by watching.
With which side of the audience would you identify?
Would you stand there with this woman like you were walking in her shoes? Can you see yourself grabbing this jar of perfume off your dresser and breaking over his head?
Or would you be like me, sitting on the other side of the table with your jaw on the floor thinking that she just wasted a whole bunch of value?
I only say that because I want to be transparent with you. I’m the kind of guy that wants to know if I am getting the most out of my money. I want the best bang for buck. The best return on investment.
At face value, what this woman did this looks incredibly stupid!
But it only looks stupid without our considering the why behind her actions.
It’s always interesting to know the story behind the story of what is taking place here.
Upon further review, we can understand that the nameless woman in Mark’s story is actually Mary of Bethany from the way John records this event. He captures it in John 12 and remembers it as falling on Jesus feet rather than his head. No matter, reality was, it was probably both is head and his feet.
And with this further review, we can investigate from John 11 the why behind her sacrifice. This may have been out of gratitude of her brother, Lazarus, being raised from the dead.
When we have been touched by Jesus the way Mary and her family had been, no sacrifice is too great. There is no earthly commodity that is too costly to give to this person who has literally changed everything for you.
This took place just before Jesus was led to a cross and crucified. It was actually said that Mary’s act was preparation for his pending death.
What I find most astounding of this story is that her sacrifice was so great before He died for her on the cross. And since that’s true, my question becomes what element of our lives should demonstrate a gratitude on that level since we live after He died on the cross?
I’ll be frankly honest with you, there has never been a time in my life that I have given in sacrifice at the level of Mary in gratitude to what has been done for me.
I envision it in this way. Each of us have a similar jar of something that is in our possession and we have the opportunity to break that jar at any point in our lives. Some of you have already gone forward and broken that jar. You recognized the value in thankfulness and symbolically anointed Jesus through your gift.
But then there are the rest of us and we are still here waiting to know if this is the moment or if a better one will come!?
I want to caution you and, at the same time, caution myself, that we don’t wait too late to break the bottle. It is never the wrong moment to demonstration gratitude for what the Lord has done for us. You’re never going to regret the moment you became extravagant in your appreciation of the sacrifice He gave.
How would you express that? What does breaking the bottle look like in your world?