the alabaster jar

I rest and ponder work and giftings and motivation. Work is easy to figure out–it’s what I do. Giftings can be obvious–it’s where our passions lie. But motivation–that’s the tricky one. It’s so easy to think I have the right motivation, but then I look into my heart and see that people-pleasing monster gleefully laughing that he fooled me again. Ugh. I desire my motivation to be for Jesus’ glory and yet, there’s this thing inside me that really wants other people to be happy with my offerings, which ultimately is wanting glory for myself. Double ugh.

Mark 14:1-5 tells of a woman who poured the contents of her alabaster jar on Jesus’ feet and the guests treated her harshly for this decision.

Why? It was a gift, an offering poured out for Jesus. It was also hers to do as she pleased. Shouldn’t she have been admired by the guests? But no.

The guests treated her harshly. They thought she wasted her gift. They thought her gift would have been better served to have been sold for much money and the money given to the poor. They thought their idea of how to use her offering was better and would serve more people. Hence, having greater impact. The guests wanted her offering done in Jesus’ name. She wanted to give her gift for Jesus alone.

It is clear that every gift we bring, every offering we offer can have two motivations. Is it done in Jesus’ name or is it done for him? The guests wanted her gift to be sold and money given to the poor–an offering given in Jesus’ name. The woman wanted to pour out her offering solely for Jesus’ benefit. She gave her offering for him.

There is a subtle, yet distinct difference. Is what I do done in Jesus’ name or is it done for him to be used for him and by him how he sees fit. I need to bring my offerings to him, pour them out on him and for him and let him decide how they best serve his purposes. I need to relinquish control and simply offer.

The woman in our story brought her gift, broke it open and poured it out on Jesus. She was criticized. She was murmered about. But Jesus. Jesus rebuked her critics and declared her gift an anointing  of him. For his burial.

The point is, we may think we know what our gifts will be best served by, but do we? Shouldn’t we simply offer our gifts up to Jesus for him to be used as he sees fit? Isn’t this just one other way we can welcome grace into our lives? Giving to him and letting go in the giving?

Each day I am challenged to give my time and moments for him to be used by him. If I want the people-pleasing monster within me to stay silent, then I must give my time, days, words, moments to Jesus for him to decide how they will best serve his purpose. He knows.

He knows. And in this I trust.

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