Beside the Well
In the back of my old Bible is an outline preached by a dear pastor friend many years ago. The first two points of his message have never left my mind. He was preaching from Mark 14 about the woman breaking the alabaster box and the precious ointment our Lord. The disciples scolded her. They did not understand the sacrifice of love she demonstrated.
His two points? A good work always costs us something and a good work is always questioned.
As I sat today thinking again about these two points, I was reminded of what it can cost to serve the Lord. Self-denial, obedience, the danger of being misunderstood or criticized, and being discounted in society are just a few. Sometimes, I feel like I live in a time warp. But when I look at all I have gained from serving the Lord; the costs pale in comparison.
My life, and probably yours as well, will never be of major significance to vast society or be lauded on the evening news. We are the ones who get on with doing our jobs, loving our families, paying our taxes and occupying space. Hopefully, we are used of God in some manner to be a blessing to Him and to others along the way. Our lives are just a simple flame.
Jose Navajo said, “The simple flame of a candle is more effective to fight the darkness than an impressive but ephemeral explosion of firecrackers” (p 109). The woman’s sacrifice of her precious ointment was not done to receive a blaze of attention; it was just a simple flame. She did what she could. It cost her dearly, but her heart was in the offering.
He went on to say, “Don’t focus on what astonishes, but rather what transforms” (p116). The breaking of the box was her personal sacrifice. The content was only astonishing because of its value. She knew the transformation that had taken place in her life and wanted to express her genuine love.
The disciples, however, thought of her as a simple woman whom they could discount and ridicule. But do you remember the words of our Lord? “Let her alone…she hath wrought a good work…that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her” (Mark 14:6-9). Her good work cost her something, and through the centuries her example has been used of God to transform many.
Her good work was also questioned. How sad when our fellow Christians speak against us, question our motives, or try to undermine our service. God alone knows the true intention of each man and woman. He is the only one credited with the ability to judge and discern the hearts. The disciples thought she was wasteful and extravagant. They believed they could have used the funds from that offering for something greater. They totally misread the situation.
How many times are we guilty of judging others? We look at their actions and think we would have done it differently or better. We allow pride to cause us to be like the disciples—totally misreading a situation. Pride reigns.
Understanding that a good work will cost and always be questioned enables us to keep serving even when others fail to perceive our motives. Remember, we aren’t serving them anyway. We are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:24) She did not stop her good work because they ridiculed. She performed the sacrifice of her heart as unto her Lord and was rewarded.
Albert Einstein said, “Instead of being a successful man, seek to be a man of value. The rest will come naturally” (p 116). Maybe we need to start looking at our Christian service in more simple terms. Just be that simple flame; doing good works from a genuine heart of love and leave the rest with the Lord.
Quotes from Monday Mornings with my Old Pastor by Jose Navajo