Wasteful Extravagance or Extravagant Worship

Photograph by John Goode


Gift giving is an integral part of life. But choosing an appropriate gift can be a stressful exercise. There are considerations of budget, the importance of the relationship and the significance of the event (birthdays, anniversaries or milestone celebrations, etc). If you were to give a gift to our Master, what would it be?

Mark 14:3-9 records for us an account of Jesus being anointed in the home of Simon the Leper. This account is similar to, but not identical to Luke’s account of the sinful woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears and perfume (Luke 7:36- 50). In Mark’s account, in the midst of the dinner party, Mary (sister of Martha and Lazarus) took a pint of very expensive perfume, and poured it on Jesus’ head. In both accounts, the gifts were expressions of worship.

The guests at the party could not fathom why Mary would ‘waste’ such an expensive perfume (worth at least a year’s wages) on Jesus. To her critics, it was wasteful extravagance! The self-righteous in the crowd contended that the money should have been given to the poor instead. In so doing, they missed the point of Mary’s act, and more importantly, they failed to savor the presence of Jesus in their midst.

Mary’s sacrificial act epitomizes the lesson on extravagant worship of our Master. She did not hold back, but gave joyfully to her Master even at the cost of being misunderstood. Mary’s act so touched our Master’s heart that He came to her defense, and even commended her for doing “a beautiful thing to me” (v. 6). This “beautiful thing” refers to Mary pouring perfume “beforehand to prepare for my burial” (v. 8), thereby accomplishing a prophetic purpose; it foreshadowed what is to come — Christ’s death on the cross. True worship accomplishes God’s eternal purposes and plans, sometimes unbeknownst to us.

Mary gave of her best in worship of the Savior. Giving Jesus our best is doing what we can (v. 8), with all we have (v. 3), for the One we love most (v. 6)

As we begin the year, make 2014 a year of extravagant worship of our Master. Let us not hold back, but give fully to the Lord. It could be expressed through the giving of our time, or the use of our talents to serve the body of Christ, or through tithes and offerings to God’s work. May we do so out of a grateful heart.



Lam Kok Hiang, Country Leader
February 2014