4 “Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for Him there. ... Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. ... But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples (he who was about to betray Him), said, ’Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’”
John 12:1-11 (ESV)
The Bible is replete with commands and commendations for generosity.
Sincere generosity is among the godliest of characteristics. Indeed, generosity is among the most God-like characteristics since God Himself is the epitome of generosity, having offered up His own Son for humanity.
This Easter week, as we consider His generosity in all that He’s given for us, we will likely consider our own: “Am I generous? How can I better steward what I’ve been given?”
When I consider generosity, the first thing that comes to mind is what came to mind for Judas Iscariot -- giving to the less fortunate. What’s interesting is that Jesus, in this case, opposes Judas’ indictment of Mary.
“Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me’” (John 12:7,8 ESV).
Is Jesus somehow now against caring for the poor? Of course not! Everything else we see in Jesus’ life and teaching disputes that thought.
The point that Jesus is making here is that true generosity, God-like generosity, is not about the fortune of the person or people to whom we give. Rather, it is about the nature of our hearts in giving.
Judas spoke from a concern for “greasing his own palms.” He likely wished that Mary had given that money to him so that he could “give it to the poor,” though John tells us what was really on his mind (John 12:6).
Mary, on the other hand, likely spent her entire dowry that was reserved for her future wedding and bought some expensive oil as a token of her love and devotion to her Savior. The lesson here is that generosity is not about how much or to whom we give, but rather, it is about the heart behind our giving.
Reflect This Easter week, think about how you’ve been using the precious gifts that God has given you: your time, talents, money, education, career, family. Where can you spare some of these in order to enrich the life of another and thereby honor your God who’s been so generous to you?