"Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany...Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor...Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume."
Talk about your extravagant gift! How I would love to be in Mary's skin during this act of worship to Jesus, to be able to express my love for Him in person so elaborately. I can only daydream.
I wonder, though. Would I really have traded places with her? She poured a perfume worth a year's wages on His head. Then she proceeded to coat His feet with it in front of all those people--with her hair! Would I have shown Jesus I adore Him with that much abandon?
The most precious thing I have to offer Him is myself. The gifts that came first from His hand--my spiritual gifts--are as valuable as that fine perfume if they are offered from a pure and humble heart. After all, using them is my "spiritual act of worship."
Yet I miss the point of this more often than not. I've been guilty of leaving my "bottle of perfume" on the shelf, afraid of what others will think of its scent. Fear, Insecurity and Laziness are familiar culprits of my flesh that work to give my gifts a long shelf life.
Of course, I am also guilty sometimes of spraying it on only when I can assure it will smell good to others. In the name of peace, I don't want to offend anyone. Or worse, I might be ridiculed.
The worst mistake of all is when I use my spiritual gifts to my own benefit. I saturate myself in them so that others cannot help but be attracted to the "Good Smell Contest Winner"--ME! "Hi, Mom!"
Each day, I have opportunities to use the gifts God has given me, and each day, I make a choice. When I turn to the Word, it stirs my soul to live the Mary way.
I have no excuse to be lazy when I read, "Do not neglect your gift," and "fan into flame the gift of God." Clearly, I am to exercise my spiritual gift muscles in order to strengthen the Body of Christ as a whole.
And how can I use my gifts only when it feels good, knowing that God did not give me "a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline"? Did Mary run away when Judas rebuked her?
Furthermore, when I scream out "Look at me! See how great I am with my precious gift," have I forgotten Who gave it to me in the first place? Even if I replace the exclamation point with a period or a question mark, I am totally missing the mark that Mary left behind as an example. She showed that gifts are given so that Jesus will smell good to others.
Am I alone in my struggle, or can you relate? The admonishments in Scripture are for each of us as believers. "The end of all things is near," we are reminded. Shouldn't that lead us to use our spiritual giftedness for the glory of Jesus Christ?
If the Holy Spirit has gifted us with hospitality, we should do so without prejudice and "without grumbling." Our wide open doors will hopefully lead to wide open hearts for Christ.
If we are led to encourage, instead of crossing the line to flattery, we should do it as "one speaking the very words of God." Our deliberate words will hopefully lead toward decisions for Christ.
If and when any of us serve with WHATEVER gift He has given us, we "should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ."
Let's break open our valuable jars today and fill the room with His aroma--in humility, in authenticity--with no duplicity of heart or mind, fully knowing that it is "Christ in us" who can accomplish great and mighty things according to His will.
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him."
2 Corinthians 2:14