4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.”
Not long before the death of Jesus, a woman poured out an expensive perfume over the Savior. This was an extravagant gesture, as the perfume would have been worth a great deal of money. Jesus’ disciples, at least some of them, could not believe what had happened. They wondered why the woman was allowed to be so wasteful.
Jesus, as usual, blows the minds of his followers. He commends the woman for what she has done. Yes, she poured out her financial future as an act of worship. No, that does not make sense in the way that many consider it. But, the Savior says that she has done a beautiful thing. He rebukes the pragmatic disciples and commends the extravagant gesture.
I can think of many times in my Christian life where I have been much like the disciples here. I have looked at the choices of other believers and determined where I thought they were making the wisest use of their resources. I can recall a particular time when I waxed eloquent on whether or not it was acceptable for a local church to spend the money to own a pipe organ—those are very expensive instruments. Of course, just like the disciples, I had in my argument all of the things that those tens of thousands of dollars could be used for. And, just like the disciples, I had my own preferences as to where the money of the imaginary churches should go. At that time, I was more into guitars than into high-church organ music, so of course, the idea did not even appeal to me—funny how things change.
What should I learn here? Jesus applauded an action of a woman, an action that his followers could not understand. He loved the woman’s willingness to pour out her very life-savings in worship. While I do not think that any of us is called to be foolish with our resources, it is most certainly true that God will give people different desires for ways to worship and follow him with our lives.
Some folks will give money to care for orphans, and that is good. Some will give money to plant churches, and that is good. Some will give to stop human trafficking, and that is good. Some will take a group of students to play paint ball and build discipleship relationships, and that is good. The truth is, there are going to be a lot of different ways that we spend ourselves for the Kingdom of God. May we know that Christ is honored when we pour out our best for him and his glory. May we hold nothing back from him and worship him with extravagance. And, may we be less quick to tell others how it is that we think they should spend themselves for the Kingdom.