October 25, 2016
6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
The irony is so thick as to almost be confusing. On the one hand an unnamed woman breaks open a very expensive jar of perfume and pours it over the head of Jesus. It is an uncalculated gift.
On the other hand, Judas, one of Jesus original disciples sells him out to the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver. Nothing could have been more calculating than this.
Love has no calculator. It has nothing to do with the amount and everything to do with the heart. Consider the widow in the Temple who put in two copper coins. Jesus said she had given more than anyone else there that day. They had given out of their excess. She gave all she had. This woman gave what some have estimated to be worth a year’s wages.
Over the course of my life, I’ve been around a lot of people who have a lot of money and a number of them have given a lot of money away. They always bring a calculator. Don’t hear me wrong. Calculated giving is good and God blesses it.
I think what I’m trying to say is that every day giving can be honorable and generous and immensely significant. Then there is Love. Love is giving raised to another order of magnitude. Amount has nothing to do with it. That’s why a calculator doesn’t even make sense. There is no calculus when a person is moving in the supernatural realm of love. Because they keep no record of wrongs, they also keep no record of rights. Because they hold everything loosely, they can give everything freely. It does not make sense. It never will. This is the stuff of God. It’s funny how it can drive disciples to sheer indigence!
Isn’t it interesting how we admire big givers. We salute them. We put their names on buildings. We look up to them. To say we admire this woman seems absurd. We are in awe of her. We can’t put her name on a building because we don’t even know her name. Her story, however, will never be forgotten. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” But why? Because what she did bears witness to what Jesus did. As she poured out that very costly perfume for the sake of Jesus, so he would pour out his infinitely costly life for the sake of her (and us).
Giving can come from many motivations. Love can only come from being loved. Giving is always good. Love, on the other hand, is always Divine.
See the difference?
Father, we want to become un-calculating givers; which is to say we want our offering to carry the freight of Divine Love. While we know it when we see it, we don’t know how it works. We know it has nothing to do with what we can afford or not. Lift us off the plane of our present mindset and into the realm of Divine Love. We want to live our lives in that economy, which will never add up on our earth bound balance sheets. Teach us to love. In Jesus name, Amen.
1. What stands out to you about today’s text and the story it tells?
2. Reflect on this statement: So often in response to another’s giving we give thanks to God for the giver. When we see giving raised to the level of Divine Love, we give thanks to God for God.
3. What would it look like for you to hide your calculator? What would that mean? What would have to happen inside of you?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.