Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Alabaster Jar

A few days ago, I blogged about the Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25. Then yesterday in our worship service, I found it interesting that my pastor spoke about "The Alabaster Jar" found in the next chapter, Matthew 26:6-13.

If you're not familiar with the story, here's the passage:

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her (KJV).

Something about this woman's story struck me differently than it ever has before. Here was a woman that owned an extremely expensive perfume, probably worth a whole year's salary during those days! I don't know about you, but I don't think I even own anything with that kind of value except my retirement account!

So, the disciples' reaction makes total sense from a financial world view when they talk about how this woman wasted the money. What they didn't comprehend was the spiritual significance! This woman (probably Mary Magdalene) must have understood that Jesus was about to die, and she wanted to anoint his body in order to prepare him for burial.. She was making an extremely costly sacrifice as an act of worship for her Lord.

From my Pastor's message yesterday, here are some important thoughts to ponder:
  1. The motive of her gift was out of love - sometimes logic takes a backseat; out of love, we should say not how little can I give, but how much.
  2. The moment was not lost - some people wait for the "right moment" to give. There's never a right time!
  3. The manner was lavish - the estimated value of her gift was one year's wages!
  4. The memory is lasting - Jesus himself said to his disciples that wherever the gospel story is told, the alabaster jar story should be told as a memorial to her; and here we are retelling her story some 2,000 years later!

Giving to God and others doesn't always seem to "jive" with conventional financial wisdom! But God's math doesn't equal our math. He promises that if we keep the Kingdom of God first, He will take care of our needs.

So what's your alabaster jar?

1 comment:

  1. my alabaster jar is my precious posessions-- my time, talents and even my life..