Fresh Hope – 21st November 2018

What do you say yes to when it’s hard? Maybe it’s getting up off the sofa and going to the gym. Maybe it’s ‘yes’ to helping out a friend or family member when you really don’t feel like it. Maybe it is to being generous when you think you can’t afford it. When you say ‘Yes’ to something, you are sacrificing your ‘no’. You have given up something.

One of the biggest ‘yeses’ in scripture was from a woman who made a big sacrifice.

Matthew 26:6-9, Mary came up to him (Jesus) with a flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at the table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, ‘why this waste?’… But Jesus aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me.”’

This perfume was expensive, but cultural context will tell us that this perfume was more than just expensive in monetary terms. Yes, it was worth over a years’ wages and she spent it all, in one shot on Jesus, but, with no male remaining family members, this perfume would have been her dowry – an expensive wedding gift that she could give in exchange for a husband. By pouring it all on the feet of Jesus, she was pouring out her future. Who would offer her security now? Who would she bear children with? Would she forever be on her own? Mary was truly surrendering it all to Jesus in an expensive act of worship. She wasn’t constrained by cultural norms, she was positioned to sacrifice. Paul in Romans encourages us to be ‘living sacrifices’. Surely that is a contradiction? How can you be a sacrifice (dead), but living (alive)? Romans 12:1, ‘what should be our proper response to God’s marvellous mercies? I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices’.

To be a living sacrifice is to be dead to yourself. Dead to your own ‘yes’, dead to your own selfish gain. Dead to your own pride. We are to live in a constant state of giving up and giving over to God. Laying things down, pouring things out for the sake of Jesus.

Fire rests on sacrifice. The power of God rests on sacrifice. The influence of God rests on sacrifice. When you give something over to God, you are inviting the power of God to do something with it.

So maybe the disciples did have a point. Why did Mary have to waste a whole bottle of this perfume on Jesus’ feet? I mean, she didn’t have to use all of it did she? Maybe you’re thinking that it is pretty selfish of Jesus to insist on receiving such an extravagant gift. Why does God even require sacrifice? Why does he delight in such expensive worship? Is it because He is insecure? Does He need us to be worshipping Him to feel good about himself?

…. No! The answer is because sacrifice is good for US! People become like whatever they worship. Jesus was applauding the heart of a worshipper in receiving Mary’s gift, for he recognised true surrender, true sacrifice, a true ‘yes’, when it wasn’t easy. But furthermore in Mary giving it all to Jesus, she was actually doing the best thing should could have done for herself.

If we are to stay on the edge of growth and development in God, sacrifice is required. Perhaps what was a sacrifice 5,10, 15 years ago, has just become convenience for you now. What is it that you are giving to God that is costing you something? It may cost your pride, your reputation, your money, your life even! But watch what God can do with true sacrifice!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.