Summary: Mary’s act of selfless love in annointing Jesus’s feet with oil exemplifies for us the joy that comes is giving all that we have and all that we are to God.
Giving God Our Best
“Count On Me” Message Series: Part 4
Rev. Gary A. Shockley, Senior Pastor
January 26, 2003
A man on his deathbed called his preacher, his doctor and his lawyer to visit him. “I have $30,000 left in the bank and I want to take it all with me when I die. So, I’m giving each of you an envelope with $10,000 cash in it. At my funeral, I want each of you to come and put your envelope in my coffin.” The man died, and each of the three did what he asked. Later in the week they met up with each other to talk about the experience. The preacher said, “I’m sure that if he’d thought about it more brother Smith would have wanted to help out with the new church organ. So I took $2,000 out of the envelope and put $8,000 in the coffin.” The doctor confessed, “Well, he complimented me on the care I provided him when he was ill and I knew he’d want to help fund my new clinic so I took $5,000 out and deposited $5,000 in the coffin.” The lawyer said, “I did better than both of you. I took the $8,000 you left preacher, and I took the $5,000 you left doctor. I also kept my $10,000. But to be fair I left behind in the coffin a check for the $30,000.”
John Piper in his book “Desiring God” writes, “money is the currency of the Kingdom of God. What you do with it—or desire to do with it—can make or break your happiness forever.”
My friends the most important thing that can come out of the time we’ve spent together this month is our ability to grasp what the Bible has to say about stewardship and for us to begin to put a few simple, but important, principles to work in the way we look upon and use our resources.
According the John, the writer of the fourth gospel, there was quite a party going on in this modest home in Bethany. Parallel passages tell us Simon- a leper Jesus healed was there. So was Lazarus-the man Jesus brought back to life. Lazarus’ sister Martha was there with her unquenchable gift of hospitality. So was Lazarus’ other sister Mary who often spent time sitting with Jesus caught up in the stories he would tell. The disciples were there. Of course, Jesus is the guest of honor.
When they had finished eating Martha “redded” up the table as the men were lost in conversation. Mary, who had on another occasion, been accused by her sister as being a “slacker” for not helping with the dishes, resisted her chores again. Mary’s in her room rummaging through her hope chest. She knows exactly what she’s looking for. She comes back to the dining room, dodges her sister Martha and quietly weaves her way around the dinner table to position herself at Jesus’ feet. Quietly she works to open a large jar--one that had probably been sealed from her birth. She reaches inside, scoops out some of its fragrant contents and with circular motions begins to smother Jesus’ feet. She continues scooping and wiping until there is so much on Jesus’ feet she needs to mop up some of it—with her hair. The fragrance fogged the room. Imagine the stunned silence of the group. John tells us the twelve ounce jar was worth a small fortune- the equivalent of 300 days wages. Almost a year’s income! Judas quickly calculates its value and immediately objects to her wastefulness. He feigns concern for the poor. How much better it would have been had Mary given the perfume to him so he could sell it to help the needy. John adds, parenthetically, that Judas was a thief and simply wanted the money for himself.
Jesus puts an end to the debate by graciously accepting Mary’s gift and the heart behind it.
From this story we glean three things that anchor us in what the Bible says about stewardship-the way we think about and use God’s resources:
1. Everything we have comes from God and belongs to Him.
Let’s look at the biblical teaching behind this. Chris referenced Psalm 24:1 last week, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it!” It all comes from God and belongs to Him. We read in 2 Chronicles 29:16, “O Lord our God, even these materials that we have gathered to build a Temple to honor your name comes from you! It all belongs to you!” Paul wrote in I Corinthians 4:7, “What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you’ve accomplished something on your own?”
Mary, I believe, could make such a lavish gift, because she understood this overarching principle of life. Everything we have comes from God and belongs to Him. Contrast the response of Judas whose actions betrayed his attitude of, “It may have all come from God but it’s mine now!” I was talking with one of our members the other day and asked the question, “why do some people react so negatively to stewardship teaching?” I think their answer was right on, “It’s because they believe what they have is truly their own. They earned it, they invested it, they bought it, it’s theirs!” It’s a problem of ownership!