Beautiful offerings

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as 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…”
-Matthew 26:6-10

We’ve all been given talents, gifts, something of worth to be used for a purpose.  And if we look around at the world in which we live, we can easily become convinced that we need to use what we’ve been given to better ourselves, to push ahead of someone else, to make a life that’s a little more glamorous or at least more comfortable than what we have.

But what happens when we take our gifts and give them all to Jesus?  Well, we certainly may face some opposition, just as the lady with the alabaster jar or perfume did.  People around us- coworkers, neighbors, friends, family, even brothers and sisters in Christ- may question us and ask why we are “wasting” our talents.  Why spend all your time serving those people who don’t seem to care?  Why give your money to the church when you could buy more things for your family?  Why work that job when you could be doing something more prestigious?  The world is full of “why’s” when we go against the flow and choose to follow God.

But look at how Jesus responds to those offerings.  “She has done a beautiful thing to me.”  What makes no sense to the world is beautiful in His sight.  He desires all of you, all of me… Not more money, more fame, or more stuff.  Just the offerings of our hearts. He wants us to give to Him out of love and devotion, to simply offer ourselves in worship and in service, recognizing that without Him, we have and are nothing.

A few years ago, our family went through a really dark period… it was one of those seasons in which everything that could go wrong, went wrong.  Our church family was a constant source of encouragement to us, and one of the ways they ministered to us was to collect some money to help meet an immediate need that we had at the time.  A huge blessing in and of itself.  But, with the money came a little bag of coins, given from the child of one of our friends.  She heard her parents sharing about the needs we had and wanted to give what she had to help- $0.80.

I still have that $0.80.  What that little girl doesn’t know is that her sacrificial gift of the coins she had saved has served a purpose beyond that immediate need at the time.  I keep that bag of coins as a reminder of how God provides and sustains, how He never fails, how He is always looking out for His people.  It’s a reminder that we are the body of Christ, and we are called to love one another and serve one another, and to sacrifice for each other.  That bag of coins is a beautiful thing to me as it has served to encourage my heart and uplift my spirit over the past few years.

Our gifts don’t look the same, and aren’t meant to be compared.  A sacrifice isn’t measured in relation to someone else.  What I have to offer looks mighty different from what my friends have to offer or those people over there have to offer or even what my own family members have to offer- God created us each individually, and we’ve been blessed uniquely.  And when we each give our all to Him, He accepts our gifts and calls them beautiful.  For my gift to be called beautiful by the Giver of life, the Creator of all things, the Savior of the world?  I can think of no greater reward.  Be encouraged, friends, to go do beautiful things for Him…

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