A woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head. Mark 14:5, (NLT)
We don’t know all the reasons Mary of Bethany (as John 12:3) tells us; interrupts Jesus and his meal at the home of Simon the leper, to pour this special perfume over Jesus’ head. I wonder if she even considered what would be the reaction to her act of love? The scripture says some of those at the table were indignant. Why waste such expensive perfume? they asked. It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly. Mark 14: 4-5. (NLT)
Poor Mary. She did an act of love, which really hurt no one, but was criticized and condemned. Have you ever found yourself on that side? Reaping criticism and condemnation as you have tried to serve the Lord? It happens to all of us. When we try to do good, and people misunderstand it can even cause us to back off from doing the next God prompt. We don’t know how Mary felt, but I am sure it took away from some of the blessing she was trying to give to Jesus.
Or maybe you have been the critic. Watching from the outside someone else generous gift, and either being envious because they thought of it, or maybe wishing you had that special perfume! The perfume was Mary’s. It was hers to use as she saw fit. Do you notice how easy it often is for us to know better how to use someone else’s time, treasure or talent? If we had the perfume, of course we would have used it in a wiser way! But Mary’s heart was towards Jesus, and it was simply an act of love. I don’t know if she knew how prophetic was until Jesus responded to her!
Why must we be so critical of others? What is it that rises out of our old man and makes us feel we need to pass judgement and censure others? Maybe we aren’t as vocal as those fellows, but I know, in myself, it can happen quickly in my mind and heart. We don’t see Mary defending herself, but Jesus rises to the occasion. He knew her motives and purpose, probably even better than she did herself!
But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could and has anointed me body for burial ahead of time”. Mark 14:7 It is so comforting to know that Jesus understands our motives and will rise to our defense also..
We find James speaking very clearly on this matter. Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you.God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor? James 4: 11-12 (NLT) I know this is true. I need to focus on obeying the Lord and what He asks me to do. When I feel secure in God’s love and HIs ways, I do not seem to care or worry about (negatively) what others are doing or not doing. They are His kids. He knows how to discipline them. Not my job. My job is to pray for them, help them and bless them.
Brothers and sisters, let’s guard our hearts against criticism. It is divisive and not helpful. James also tells us, If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. James 3:13-14. NLT This should keep us too busy to be critical!
Father, I thank you for alerting us by your Holy Spirit to any areas of criticism we may walk in. Help us walk in love, grace and mercy. We renounce jealousy and selfish ambition and seek to walk humbly with you. Help us to celebrate one another’s victories, In Jesus’s Name. amen.