Why This Waste?
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 26:7b (Holman) She poured it on His head as He was reclining at
This lady found what we seek; she drew near to God’s heart. What lessons can we learn from her to help us in our quest to know Jesus better?
One, she was bold, unashamed of Jesus. The religious establishment turned on Him, but she didn’t. We never have any valid reasons whatsoever to be ashamed of Jesus. His people may disappoint us, but He never will.
We cannot draw close to anyone we are ashamed of, or embarrassed to be identified with. Ask the Holy Spirit to give us supernatural courage toward Jesus in a culture slipping ever father away from His influence.
Two, she was focused on Jesus, not herself. She could tell He was preoccupied. She was perceptive enough to sense a foreboding in Him. Others were distracted with everyone else, but she focused on Him. Sensing the weight on His shoulders, she wanted to encourage her sad, weary friend.
Jesus needed to know someone understood and cared. She looked into His soul and saw in His eyes a shadow; not knowing a cross was casting it.
Our prayers are too often solely about us. When did we last express concern to Jesus about His pain over the suffering caused by a world run amok, and by multitudes entering a Christless eternity? We are not the only ones sorry about our sins; He is too. Ask Him to help us make Him less sad.
Three, she was generous. This socially awkward moment reminds us nothing is too precious to be poured out for Him who poured out His blood for us. We know this, but too often falter at the attempt to live up to it.
The event in our text is incredibly memorable because deeds like it are rare. This should not be the case. I wonder why we don’t do this more often.
By pouring out her expensive perfume, this lady gave Jesus her best. She poured out her everything, nothing held back. True worship is generous.
Matt. 26:8 When the disciples saw it, they were indignant, “Why this
waste?” They asked.
This was not a great moment for the Twelve. Love’s actions always seem absurd to selfishness. Had we been in this room I fear we might have shared the disciples’ incredulity. The disciples had forgotten, as we too often do, sometimes love has to do something wild to adequately express itself.
Affection sometimes needs to be so strong that it entirely forgets self, disregards what others think, and lavishes itself on the beloved. Occasionally we all need to give or do something that causes cooler hearts to ask, “Why this waste?” Our God deserves unexplainable expressions of love.
This lady showed the potential we have for showing love to Jesus. It is possible to do for Jesus a loving act so selfless that only He can appreciate it. We can give to the point that not even John the Beloved could understand.
When did you or I last give Jesus a gift so generous that it prompted someone to gasp out loud, “Why this waste?” We cannot do this all the time. The emphasis is spontaneous generosity. When did love last overwhelm us?
By failing here we find one cause of our spiritual listlessness. By not letting there be any moments when we lavish on God we develop a habit of ho-hum devotion. When a young preacher, as I was entering the auditorium one evening, our church treasurer told me our people had given more money in the previous month than we had ever given in any month in the fifty-year history of the church. Thrilled, I shared this with the people. We all rejoiced.
I then on a whim asked who had made a conscious choice to sacrifice anything to help us achieve this remarkable victory. Only one person raised a hand. Young and immature, I blurted out, “Then why don’t we give that much every month?” It was a bad question; I regret I did it, but the event has stayed with me, reminding me we often let our giving become perfunctory. Somewhere in life it becomes routine, rather than an outflowing of love.
By not letting white-hot lava flow sometimes, the heart stays cold always. Is mediocrity acceptable in our giving to God? Is moderation a plus when showing love? Some highly value dull, thinking a yawn is better than a wild gift.
It’s been a long time since Ruth and I gave a “wasteful” offering to God. When we were young, we gave everything we had to buy all the buses for our bus ministry in Gosnell one at a time. People would reimburse us after each purchase; Ruth and I would go buy another bus. At what age do our hearts begin to cool? When does giving become duty rather than delight?
Don’t try to stop our children if they want to give a lot; they will become like us soon enough. Leave them alone; let them give recklessly. Let them create their own high standards to strive to reach again later in life.
When did we last do or give more than was expected of us? Shall we be content with giving God what we deem His due, and nothing more? Extravagant love ought to break out in all of us from time to time.
Abundant generosity has long marked the best among us. When Jacob was told his son Joseph was still alive, the old patriarch did not believe it, until he saw extravagant gifts loaded on the wagons sent to retrieve him.
In the wilderness, the Israelites gave so much for construction of the tabernacle that Moses had to make them stop giving. In Paul’s day, the poor Macedonians, whose land was repeatedly ravaged by wars between Greece and Persia, gave beyond their ability to give. When the Prodigal Son came home, the father was lavish, so lavish the elder brother could not understand.
In each of these cases we could ask, “Why this waste?” But before we ask it about these examples or about the woman in our text, ask it about God.
We certainly don’t learn miserliness from God. He never gave to us with hesitation or a cold heart. As we scan the works of creation, we readily see ours is a God of power and wisdom. We also see more. God is lavish.
God pours His love on us. He does not merely calculate His benefits or weigh His favors on scales. God is not only practical in His creation. He built extravagances into it. He gives each flower far more than barely enough seeds to reproduce its beautiful self. The sun shines far more light than our planet needs. Rain falls on rocks as well as soil. Incredibly beautiful sunset scenes are everyday unseen by human eyes. “Why this waste?”
Sometimes we need to respond to God’s love with extravagant waste. When did any of us last lavish one act or gift of love on Him who is love?
Love for God is not ruling us if the minimum is all we want to eke out for Him. For instance, if we can talk ourselves out of tithing, our hearts are going the wrong direction. Love seeks no loopholes to crawl through, but floodgates to give through. Selfish love is a contradiction, an oxymoron. As a furnace melts ice, even so love melts selfishness.
When we capture the truth “God is love”, we no longer ask of our giving, “Why this waste?” But always wonder “Is there any way I can give more?” When was the last time any of us labored over a checkbook or checked our savings accounts and wondered, “Is there more we can give?”
Dr. Larry Reesor, founder of Global Focus, tells of an African village where everyone became a believer. As they studied Scripture, they decided to send out a missionary. In three successive attempts, they tried to sell enough of their possessions to fund a missionary. Once they ran out of items to sell, and still fell short of their goal, they sat down as a group and wept.
Jesus taught us; the first command is to love God, and true love never coldly calculates, or thinks how little it can give. Love gives to the uttermost limit, and after giving all, is disappointed it cannot give more.