Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Extravagant Giver

I’m still thinking about the passage of Mary anointing Jesus with the expensive nard in John 12: 1-8. At this time, this passage makes me turn my eyes onto the offering. That was no simple jar of cologne. What Mary offered to her Lord that evening at her house was a precious and very costly gift, worth about a year’s wages! Not only was it valuable in money, but also in significance. That was the type of perfume used to anoint the body for burial. It was also most likely part of her dowry. 

She didn’t care. To Mary, tending to Jesus’ needs at that precise moment, about a week short of His crucifixion, was way more important than any earthly treasure.

Her selfless actions make me think of my own offerings. Often, I am reluctant to give because I am afraid. Be it giving my money, my time, my talents, I am nervous to offer them, may I need them later. I am hesitant to give of myself because I don’t trust the Lord’s Provision. It’s just as simple as that.

I justify my reluctance to give by thinking that not everyone is able to afford giving in the capacity that Mary did. After all, she had no kids to feed and clothe. She had hardly any bills to pay, her brother took care of her. She didn’t have to put away money in her 401K or college fund. Not everyone has such a comfortable life…not many of us can afford to be such free-spirits. What I forget is that we can all give with abandon regardless of our situation. While not everyone could give such an extravagant gift as Mary did, to some extent, however, we all can be extravagant givers.

It is not about the monetary value of the gift. It is about what it costs us. It is about the value that it has to us. I am very selfish with my time. I have my own agenda. Every day I have a list of things I want to accomplish. Rarely, I find in that list anything that has to do with selfless giving of my time to others. Hardly ever have I written on that piece of paper anything like: “Time to spend with the Lord.” I don’t remember ever writing a line item that reads: “time for ministry.” In my case, I am ashamed to say, I rather give money than my time. It is easier for me to write a check than to say: “I’ll do it.” 

Don’t get me wrong…I still have a very hard time parting with money, but it is not as valuable to me as my selfish pursuit of “me time.” 

My inability to become a cheerful giver of my time results from my inability to fully accept the fact that everything I have belongs to the Lord. I am just a steward, and a rather inefficient one. I am nothing but an administrator of all the gifts He has given me. My job is to figure out, through listening to the Holy Spirit, how He wants me to use all that He has given me while I am still on this side of Heaven. My job is not to become enslaved to the gifts I’ve received. My job is to realize that He gives and He takes away. If I run out of something, He’ll provide for it some other way. 

The extravagant giver knows all these and just gives. He/she gives himself, and that is the most fragrant offering the Lord would ever want to receive. He doesn’t need anything we have. He wants us. He wants all of us: our lives, our possessions, our family, our children, our house, our time…all of it…

God wants us to live abundant lives in Him, trusting His provision and having no other master than Himself. All for Him, and to Him.

Linking with: Whole Hearted Home

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