August 31, 2009

Reckless & Beautiful

Many of us are currently watching every penny. We're in a time & a place where we have been forced to be very intentional & purposeful with our money. This is probably a really good thing for us. Consequentially, this has put us in that same place as churches - analyzing every cent that's spent. On some levels this is a good check of our stewardship. But from the other side, we have had to cut loose some of the things we believe are worthy of our attention & resources. This is where we are.

As Christ-followers we have to be careful that the times we're living in and the state of the things around us don't move us from the standard that Christ has set for us - a heart and movement of generosity, selflessness, and love.

This morning I read the story in Mark 14:3-9 about the woman who anoints Jesus with the bottle of expensive perfume. Reading that she "broke the seal" reveals that she had not used one drop of this perfume for her own benefit - it was being saved for something special. Some of those dining with Jesus - namely Judas - were livid. They were "indignant". What they were was greedy! On the surface they tried to gloss it over as if their "righteous indignation" was aimed at the fact that the perfume could have been sold for a small fortune and the money spent on the poor. I read this and immediately judge these men. But if I'm being honest - and maybe you fall into this trap as well - in this day & time & circumstance we're in financially, there is a temptation to judge and hold in contempt anyone who appears to be giving recklessly to the Lord. We scratch our heads and whisper to each other, "I can't believe they wasted that money. Don't they know that we have other more important needs?" Maybe you don't fall into this trap. Maybe I'm the only lowlife who would do such a thing. Maybe. Maybe not.

If we are so overwhelmed by the Spirit of God to give of something we have been given - to give back to the Lord - in a way that may seem reckless to others, we have no choice but to give. I would dare say this woman didn't consult any of her friends or acquaintances about whether or not they thought this was a wise use of her perfume. That would have belittled the gift. It would have tainted the heart with which it was given. When we begin to allow the opinion of others to dictate WHAT or HOW we give, it starts to become more about us and less about the one it's given to. This is why Christ said to do things like "give" and "pray" in the secret. This is why Christ said it is so hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.

I want to give like this woman! I want the very best of what I've been given to be poured out at the feet of the One who's so generously given it to me in the first place. And I want to be free from the judgement of scrutinizing everyone else's gifts and offerings. God does NOT go through recessions! God's "economy" - if you will - does not ebb & flow with our current financial crises. Be careful how you spend, how you give, how you judge, and how you live.

"I assure you, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman's deed will be talked about in her memory."

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