Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Extravagant Love

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Matthew 26:6-13

No one writes romance novels about doing the laundry or washing the dishes for your spouse. Not only are these small acts of love not very interesting but they also don't appeal to our emotions as strongly as grand acts of love do. There is little doubt that without these daily acts of love the grand displays of affection would be empty, but it's also true that any truly great love story needs at least one extravagant gesture of love. 

This may give us something to think about in our relationship with our spouse, but today's passage pulls our gaze towards our relationship with Jesus. When was the last time you got carried away in your love for Christ? Have you ever gone beyond merely doing what you should do for Him and did something extravagant for Him because you wanted to? How sad it will be for those Christians who, when they are called home, realize that their love for Jesus was never strong enough to cause them to do anything risky, costly, or extravagant.

The woman in today's passage may have heard Jesus teaching the disciples that He would soon be killed and was moved by a sense of urgency to show an incredible display of love. She took what was almost certainly one of her most valuable possessions and sacrificed it to bless Him. Jesus was so moved by her beautiful act that He said it would be remembered and preached throughout the world. If you feel the tug to love Jesus extravagantly today then there are three things you'll need to consider from her story.

  1. There will always be people ready to criticize you for giving sacrificially to Jesus. Sadly these critical people will often come from within the church. In the story it was the disciples who immediately question the woman's decision. Some may criticize you by suggesting a more effective charitable outlet for your funds or they argue that some financial need within your family should have taken priority. Others may suggest that you are being emotional or seeking attention. But like the woman in the story, don't respond to them. You weren't trying to please them anyway. Your focus should stay on the object of your love. He will answer them in due time.
  2. We have limited time to show our love to Jesus. Jesus was only a matter of days away from His crucifixion when this happened. Had she waited too long, she would have lost her opportunity. Her time was limited by Jesus' impending departure; ours is limited by His impending return. We don't know how long we have to use our time, talents and money in this world to display our love for Jesus. But once He returns, that opportunity will have been lost.
  3. We can't pour out our love on Jesus the same way she did, but we can still give to Jesus. In the previous chapter, He tells us how. In Matthew 25:40 Jesus says, "Whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me." We show Jesus our love by loving other believers extravagantly.
What was the last risky, costly, or extravagant thing your love for Jesus led you to do? What do you sense His Spirit and His Word leading you to do for Him now? Now, be bold and extravagant!

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