Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 25 January 2016

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. Mark 14, verses 4-5.

Mark doesn’t say it but he’s most likely talking about a conversation led by Judas Iscariot.   Judas was responsible for carrying the Apostles’ money, and he used to frequently dip into the purse.   Thus, it makes sense that he was indignant that the expensive perfume was being ‘wasted’ because it could have been a huge windfall for the taking.

But tell me something:   do you and I act like Judas with our treasure? You bet we do.

Huh?   “You’re insulting me by comparing me to the man who betrayed Jesus Christ?”   Yes, my friend, that’s exactly what I’m doing.   I’m doing so in love; please let me explain.

Just a few days ago I was sitting in the sauna praying.   When I’m alone in the sauna at the gym I often pray. It’s a time of personal solitude, and I believe it cleanses both body and spirit.   Today, I was praying thanks for a bunch of random things.   My family, food, that gym, health, our home, a job, belongings, pets; you name it.   I prayed thanks to God for everything that came to mind, considering that every blessing, even small ones that I sometimes don’t consider, is a gift from God Himself.

Here’s a confession about it:   praying was tough.   It was tough for me to open up to God and really, truly give heartfelt thanks for all the ways He takes care of me.   Maybe it was because I was in a sauna.   Maybe it was because I was trying too hard. Maybe it’s because I was actually still guarding my heart from Him and didn’t fully open up.

Wanna know a secret?   I think that was what started Judas down his destructive path.   He didn’t fully give Himself over to Jesus’ message.   It was the genesis of selfishness, ambition and sin. Judas didn’t start out as Jesus’ betrayer:   he became Jesus’ betrayer because of the sins he embraced.   Pride, arrogance, selfishness, ambition:   they were some of Judas Iscariot’s sins.   They are exemplified in the verses quoted here today.   Those sins were Judas’ downfall.

They’re ours too.

You and I dip into the purse and sin against Jesus when we choose anything over Him.   No time to simply give thanks?   Take a coin.   Holding onto that grudge?   Grab a drachma. Still running around on your spouse?   You’re Judas.   You’re betraying God’s Son by choosing something that isn’t Him or of Him.   In that way, we’re no better than Judas Iscariot.   Indeed, we keep doing it over and over even as we know exactly who Jesus is.   Judas was one of Jesus’ closest friends and even he didn’t fully realize exactly who Jesus was; he didn’t have the luxury of knowing about Easter.   We do.   If you think about it, doesn’t that make our betrayal even more acute?

It’s not about how much you give or even what.   It’s about the heart from which we give it.   Where is yours? Whether it’s praying alone, giving of your time, putting into the collection plate or anything else, where is your treasure focused?

Lord, thank You for Your generous heart.   Rebuke, teach and mentor mine to better follow Your lead and give selflessly.

Read Mark 14, verses 1-11.

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