Summary: Most people don’t understand this thing about giving to the Lord and His church. We have to learn to be givers -- And Mary can help us, because she was a great giver.
Your Great Giving to God
(2007 Series - Giving to Grow) (Part 7)
Sermon by Rick Crandall
McClendon Baptist Church - Oct. 28, 2007
*Please open your Bibles to Mark 14. We are just two days before the cross when we get to this story of magnificent giving. It’s a story so important that the Holy Spirit put it in three of the Gospels. -- A story that Jesus said would be remembered forever.
*The extraordinary giver is a woman. John 12 tells us that it is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She was very close to Jesus. He had been in her home. She sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teachings. She had seen Jesus raise her brother from the dead. And now she was about to perform a great act of love and devotion to the Lord: She honored Jesus with an extraordinary gift.
*Most people don’t understand this thing about giving to the Lord and His church. One time Dennis the Menace was being carried by his dad as they ran to church. They were late. Then you see this look of horror on his parents’ faces as Dennis said, “I hope we get to our seats before they start passing out the money.” (1)
*Dennis had a lot to learn about giving. We all do. We are born into this world as relentless takers -- “Feed me; hold me; change me!” We have to learn to be givers -- And Mary can help us, because she was a great giver. What can she teach us about our giving today?
1. First of all: Your great giving will always have a high cost.
*I’m not going to try to sugar-coat this for you. Great giving always has a high cost. We certainly see this in vs. 3, where Mary came to Jesus with “an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. And she broke the flask and poured it on His head.”
*Think about the cost of her gift. Vs. 5 tells us that it was worth more than 300 denarii. Remember that the denarius was the main silver coin of the Roman Empire, and it was about a day’s pay for an average working man. So this gift was worth almost a whole year’s salary! Think about how much you make in a year. -- That’s how much Mary’s gift cost.
*But where did she get it? Pastor Christian Cheong tells us that in Jesus’ time, it was a custom for young Jewish girls to have a very expensive jar of perfume. On the day of her wedding, she would break that flask to beautify herself with it. By doing so, the bride would indicate to her bridegroom that she was offering her best, her entire life, to him. When Mary poured out that costly oil on Jesus, she was in effect saying, "Lord, I am pouring out my best for You. I’m pouring out my all to you." (2)
*She gave her best. And I am sure she would tell you today: “It was worth it! -- He was worth it.”
*You see, we give our greatest gifts for the things that matter most to us. Think about the most precious things in our lives. How about the freedom we have to worship here today. That surely didn’t come cheap. Somebody had to pay the highest price. The best estimate I can find for the number of American soldiers who gave their lives for our country is over 1,268,700. Well over a million have given their lives so that we could have the freedoms we share today. (3)
*And think about our children. Children certainly don’t come cheap. We give amazing amounts of our time and money and sometimes our tears for our children. But any decent parent would say, “It’s worth it! -- Because children are a treasure to us.”
*One of my favorite stories was written by Ann Weems. It was one of her most crucial childhood memories. Ann wrote:
“It was a family treasure -- That golden vase, the priceless vase that had belonged to my great-grandmother and my grandmother and now to my mother. The vase sat on the mantle, out of reach of little fingers. However, I managed to reach it. I climbed to reach it, and I broke it. I broke the family treasure.
Then I began to cry in loud sobs that brought my mother running. I could hardly get it out. ‘I broke the vase,’ I said. ‘I broke the treasure.’
A look of relief came over her face, and she said, ‘Oh, I thought that YOU had been hurt.’ She hugged me, and made it very clear that I was her priceless treasure.” (4)