January 27 – Today’s Readings – Matthew 26-28 and Psalms 27
The Gospel of Matthew wraps up with some powerful life lessons. Let me draw your attention to one of them in Chapter 26:7 where a woman (no name) brought “very expensive” perfume and worshiped Jesus by pouring it out on Him. Her attitude was wonderful – her heart was perfect – she wanted to honour Jesus. The disciples’ response however, was far from perfect! They felt that this much money should be allocated to a different cause. This “worship offering” was considered a squander – a waste – after all, it wasn’t part of the budget! It caused such offence in Judas’ heart that he got bitter about it, left the Church, and eventually turned Jesus over to the chief priests!
There is a pivotal question we must ask ourselves as we read this passage – Is it “wasteful and excessive” or is it “worship”? It all has to do with the way we spend our money and our time. Now, don’t get me wrong – we know that Jesus had nothing negative to say about spending money on things like the “Social Activist Gospel”. On the contrary, He told the rich ruler to sell all he had, give the money to the poor and follow him. When He was speaking of true Christianity, Jesus referred to those who fed the poor, took care of widows and orphans, visited those in prison, etc. How we treat the poor and needy is of utmost importance. Why then did Jesus rebuke the disciples and praise the actions of this woman? Was it perhaps because she offered pure worship from the heart? Is worship (even outrageous worship) WASTEFUL? I believe Jesus was trying to tell the disciples that this woman’s offering was indeed wonderful even though it probably cost her an entire inheritance – or perhaps all of her Registered Retirement Plans. Just think about how we respond to other peoples’ offerings of worship or their giving habits. We have been schooled concerning finances – we want “control” over how our money is spent and which project our cash will go towards. Most Church splits include an element of division concerning the allocation of funds. Even Jesus experienced the first Church split over the issue of finances!
There must always be an element of “feeding the poor or reaching out” when it comes to God’s money. We are supposed to be givers even as God is a giver. However, if you really want to get some heavy criticism concerning your Christianity, try being extravagant in your worship and your giving. People will call you a fool to your face if you describe the extravagant sacrifice you made in order to express your love to the Lord. Tell the average guy at the office that you give ten or twenty percent of your earnings to the work of the ministry and see what kind of reaction you get. How much more negative would this reaction be if you said you had emptied you bank account and poured it out at the feet of Jesus!
1. Why do you think “money” has always been such an issue in the Church?
2. Comment on some of the other “excessive” acts of worship mentioned in Scripture.