The Thing They Think You Wasted

I love the account of Mary breaking the pound of expensive perfume to anoint the feet of Jesus. People try to shame her and exclaim, “Why this waste?” (Matt 26:8; Mark 14:4). I imagine the scene: Mary’s brother Lazarus is now alive; Jesus raised him to life. There’s a dinner in Jesus’ honor. Imagine it! If Jesus brought back a dead brother, what would you give? What would ever be enough? A dinner party? Some expensive perfume? I think of how Mary scurried around the house trying to consider her most precious, most valuable item.

In our day now, think of the miracle that we were “dead in our transgressions and sins. . . but because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ. . . ” (Ephesians 2). A miracle has also come to your household. Spiritual resurrection! What would you give in return for your own soul’s rescuing? Would you say to Jesus that you would give, say, and do anything? When you do, expect the rebuke from people who do not understand your zeal.

As you follow Jesus (perhaps onto the mission field; perhaps in surrender of your wealth; perhaps in surrender of your safety and comfort) you’ll hear it all: you’ve wasted your potential; you’ve wasted your degree, your money, your sanity. You’ve wasted your potential for fame and influence as you live a more hidden life. People will tell you how you could have been more or how you might have done great things. They’ll tell you how you’ve wasted something the culture values. They might even tell you that you might have served Jesus in another, more useful way. 

Jesus says, “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6). In fact, if you think about the wasted potential of the perfume’s financial impact, consider Jesus’ gift to the woman. He says, “Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” What better impact than this?

Romans 12 exhorts us not to follow the pattern of the world but to “be transformed by the renewing of our mind.” We’re told to “offer our bodies as living sacrifices.” What others see as waste, we see as holy sacrifice. What others see as waste, we see as worship.

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