During this unusual time of relative isolation, on-line meetings, and ever-changing news, I have struggled off and on to focus during my quiet times with the Lord. My mind seems to wander more easily, and I find it hard to organize my thoughts and day. Thankfully, I am not alone! I’m so thankful that Jesus cherishes every effort I take to be close to Him and to give Him first place throughout my day. I’m especially encouraged by the stories of others who gave to Jesus out of their lack.
Mark 14 gives an account of Jesus’s being anointed with oil by a sinful woman as He visited a prominent man in Bethany. The costly oil she used represented her life savings and or her dowry in a future marriage proposal. She considered this offering of “all that she had” worth the expense. Mark comments in verse 8 that “she did what she could.” It was a sacrifice worth making in exchange for the Savior’s joy.
At another time, Jesus observed the widow at the Temple putting in “all that she had.” This story is similar as a poor widow offers to God everything she has in her meager reserves, trusting that He will care for all her needs.
Both of these stories raise a question: Am I lavish with Jesus? What does it mean for me to be generous with my Lord? Below are a few ways I believe God intends to grow us in generosity toward Him:
1 – I can be generous with my time and attention upon Jesus. Another way to say this is, I am allowed to “waste” time with Jesus! If I struggle to remain attentive to Jesus, especially in times of financial hardship or social isolation, Jesus promises to help me. “Jesus knows we’re like sheep that, once are on their backs, are helpless to roll over by themselves. Our Shepherd understands our helplessness and will surprise us with His ready response. He has an abundance of ways to encourage us to be faithful…Rely on his faithfulness to help you, not on your own faithfulness to always do your best.” [Aletha Hinthorn, How to Read the Bible So It Changes Your Life]
2 – I can be lavish in my acceptance and patience with others. I can slow down and be present in this moment with the ones He has placed in front of me. I can practice selflessness as I serve my family, colleagues, roommates, and friends with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:12 is a prayer we can pray for renewed desire: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Jesus takes delight in our willingness to do His will, whether it is listening, encouraging, serving behind the scenes or quietly praying for others.
3 – I can be generous because I trust Him for provision. “The LORD…who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:5) “Provision” also includes my social, emotional and spiritual well-being. When I trust Him to be my Provider, I can be generous with others who seem more needy than myself, knowing He will meet my every need.
Perhaps in this season of waiting, we can ask the Lord what “she did what she could” means for each of us. He sees the limitations of our reserves, so being “lavish” with Jesus may look different for each of us. May His Spirit lead you as you offer Him your attentiveness and obedience.
Today's Bible Reading: Mark 14:3-9
By Julie Branstetter