Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” (John 12:1-8 ESV)Many in the church are seeking ways to help the poor and other people in their community. I agree 100% and Encounter Life is consistently seeking ways to do that. This part of the reading challenged me think about why I would want to do that and to check the motives of my heart.
As Mary is pouring out her extravagant gift on the feet of Jesus, Judas is furious that the money is being wasted and he argued that it could have been given to the poor. It's not that Mary was conscience of the poor in her community or that she didn't care. Her heart was to worship Jesus and the result is a testimony that we have 2000 years later of God being glorified, which ultimately points rich and poor toward faith in Christ! It was interesting to me as I read that Jesus acknowledged the reality of poor people among them, but was more honored by the sacrifice as an act of worship toward him.
While I believe giving to others and having a heart of generosity is important, worshiping Christ and bringing glory to Him is essential. Many are serving others for personal gain (whether monetary, perception, fame, etc) not as an act of worship. As believers, we must find a balance in serving others and glorifying God. This can be done by serving others for God's glory not our own. Judas was worried about himself and his own glory, not ensuring that Christ was exalted. My hope for my family, church and friends is that we'll be people who serve others so that God is worshiped and others find life and hope in him!
One practical way we've done that is through a Hygiene Supply Drive we just finished for an elementary school in our area. For our family, we committed to spend money on that instead of using the money for something in our own lives. Our hope and prayer is that through the giving of the supplies, God will open doors for gospel conversations. Perhaps you could comment on how you've seen believers worship Jesus by serving others. Both can happen at the same time and will happen as we pursue Christ. I'm looking forward to hearing about how faith and life have connected as Christ is exalted and people are served.