I have been familiar with the story of Mary annointing Jesus with her costly perfume since childhood (although I still have trouble determining if it is all the same story recounted with different details in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, or if there are two similiar stories). In any account, as I began reading this morning and comparing all the different accounts, the Holy Spirit taught me very much by the different details emphasized as I compared the different gospels.
Lately I have felt much more pressure than usual to take on outside responsibilities. I have posted about this in the past and how great a temptation it is for me to take on too much and then eventually ending up in a sniveling heap on the floor unable to do much of anything. It is SO hard because in my heart I want so desperately to do most all of these things--for all of these dear people....but there are so many many MANY things! There are so many, many people! So...how to choose? How to be a good steward? How to not show partiality and how to not feel that crushing discouragement of having to say "no" and it not going over real well even though I'm already saying "yes" to more than is about humanly possible? Hmmmm.......
Well, where is Jesus?
Oh thank you thank you Lord! That's right! Even famous Mary was scolded for not pleasing people! Oh if only I had you in my living room I would run straightaway for my bottle of Eternity and let the 11 months wages just flow! But it is so hard to know when there are so many GOOD DEEDLY looking things out there!
Still needing more, I decided to read the account referenced for Matthew, Luke and John. In Matthew, a detail emerges "But the disciples were indignant when they saw this and said "Why this waste?" It's not unusual for the scoldings to come from within the church, from very well meaning and godly brothers and sisters who are presuming to determine where a woman's energies/resources should go...
In these moments we must first be very sure of our calling as Christian women to "love our husbands, to love our children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored..." ~Titus 2:4&5
This eliminates very much guess work for those of us who are married with children and it is very clear. But I have learned there is still very much more grey area to have to muddle through that don't call us to outright turn our backs on our calling, but somehow manage to squeeze their way sneekily in...like that guy at Costco in the sample lines. Sneaky. And we are likely to (again, like the sneaky Costco guy) outwardly just graciously let him cut in to get his cookie while we inwardly fume.
And yet if we dig a little more into the Word, we see that at times it may be a little more sinister than the Costco cookie monger and we are at times called to consider the source and remain faithful to our calling by offending those who are not as sure of our calling. John 12 says that when Mary began anointing Jesus Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?" Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.
Secondly, don't get too weak kneed at the thought of the "poor", the needs. Even Jesus Himself exhorted this. The poor, the needs, the bottomless pit of activity and possibility will always be here. There is a season for it. But we must learn to discern which of the poor Jesus is directing us to. It won't call us away from Him.
As Mary ignored the scolding from the other end of the room, she was anointing the Savior of the world for burial!!! CAN YOU EVEN GET YOUR HEAD AROUND THAT?!?!??!?!
We are called to very specific things and every moment of every day requires knowing where our LORD is...what He would have us do. It is always different than the gal next to us. Martha was bringing Jesus His dinner while Mary was annointing Him.
Dear friends, whether single or married with children... whether it is your own guilt-ridden thoughts, the discouragement from the enemy, or the voices of real people, join me in rebuking the thought that God would want us to stretch ourselves so thin, to sell the precious perfume, (eleven months wages in Mary's case) that we've been saving up especially for Him? Cast away the thought that we are "wasting" our precious time and energy better spent elsewhere as we seek to serve Christ in how He has led our family to serve Him.
Determine what that is for you,
Shake off the guilt of all the stuff you'll never do and entrust to Jesus all the poor or greedy people wanting your costly perfume...