Mark 14 & Being Extravagant for God

For some reason over the years, the words "Christian" and "fiscally conservative" have worked their way into our society as synonymous wordings.  But in studying the text of Mark 14 last week I was challenged to question how I personally could make that association a biblical truth in my life when in fact Jesus contradicts our popularly held belief that a true follower of His must be a penny pincher.

 Here is the text I am talking about:

"And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.

But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her."  Mark 14: 3 - 9

I think at times we as Christians believe the most faithful way we can live is to not be extravagant in any way.  We take the stance that being humble with our finances equates to living the most simple and piteous life we can force ourselves into.  From there, waste becomes a sin and what unfortunately follows is a list of laws which start to pile up in our lives on how we should save money and cut corners to thus be the most faithful Christians we can be.  

But wait a minute.  Who in the story above did Jesus applaud for their faithfulness to Him?  The people at the dinner who were complaining about the wasteful use of such an expensive oil and how much more wisely the money from selling that oil could be used OR the woman who broke open the costly bottle of oil and poured it out on the Lord with abandon?

As I was thinking about this concept of extravagant giving and living in a manner that uses the resources we have been given to pour them out and allow them to be used for the glory of God, my mind went back to the many Christian books I have read over the years and the stories which I have been profoundly affected by.  I don't know about you, but for some reason when I read a story about a person who is praying and praying for God to provide finances to accomplish the mission He has set before them, but it seems that time is running out and all their resources of this praying faithful person have been tapped a seat clinchers for me.  In the end what rips at my heart each time is that fact that seemingly out of nowhere at the last minute the money arrives, in the perfect amount, to pay for the task which must be financed in the life of this faithful person.  

The question really is thought, was it the person who received the money the lone person blessed in the story?  Or too was the giver also blessed in their ability to be extravagant with the resources the Lord had allowed them to give and to be part of His plan?  Of course it is both of them, and usually the story of the giver is hardly ever told because their obedience in giving does not always connect up with the story - it was just a spending/sending of money where the Lord urged them to go with it.

The story that Mark shares with us in chapter 14 contradicts our popularly held beliefs about money, savings, spending, and humble living.  To live for the Lord and be fiscally responsible means to be willing to put all of our resources into His hands and be willing to save AND to spend as He leads us.  We need to realize that the Lord, if He really is the Lord of our life, is the one who holds the reigns not only on our lives but also on our possessions and where those possessions will reside long after we are gone from this earth.  Wouldn't you agree with me that it makes sense to give everything we have to Him now so He can have His way with it instead of holding to it so we can wrestle Him for control?

The promise I hold onto as I come away from this lesson is that the Lord is our Provider and because of that I have the freedom to live extravagantly with what He has given me.  To live any other way would be unfaithful to the One who shows Himself faithful to me each and every day.  What about you?


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