A God honoring offering
What constitutes a God-honoring offering? The text unfolds at a private dinner party in a home in Bethany a few days before Golgotha. The Lord Jesus is seated at the table with Lazarus and several close friends. Into the room walks a woman with an alabaster box. Without a word, she kneels at His feet, breaks open her box and pours out a very costly perfume on His feet, then wipes His feet with her hair. Some at the table were quick to rebuke her. But, our Lord honored her. Matthew, Mark and John all recorded it for posterity in order that we would know what makes a truly God-honoring offering. In our own quest to be pleasing to Christ we find four principles leaping from the pages of scriptures into our hearts which signal to us what really makes a God-honoring offering.
I. It is precious to us (vv. 1-3)
When the lady brought her offering, we are told that it was “very costly” (v. 3). In fact, it was worth the equivalent of 300 denarii. This amount was about an entire year’s salary in that first century world. They had no banks, no certificates of deposit, no stocks or bonds, nor savings accounts. This box was her savings, and she poured it out on the Lord. She did not simply dip her finger into her wealth and dab a little on Jesus. She gave something that was precious to her. When King David purchased the threshing floor on Mount Moriah that would become the temple mount, he said he would not offer to the Lord his God a sacrifice of that which costs me nothing (2 Samuel 24:24). We honor God in our giving when we give Him something that is precious to us.
II. It is pleasant to others (v. 3)
The whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. When the lady gave what was precious to her it became pleasant to others, and everyone got in on the beauty of the gift. When we give a God-honoring offering to the Lord Jesus, we encourage and bless others in the process. This gift is still being a blessing to others today for the Lord said, wherever this gospel is preached, this lady’s gift will be told as a memorial (Matthew 26:13). Later, the Apostle Paul would describe the gift the Philippians sent to him as a sweet smelling aroma…well pleasing to God (Philippians 4:18). A God-honoring offering involves that which is not only precious to us, but that which becomes pleasant to others.
III. It is perplexing to some (vv. 4-6)
Not everyone is blessed by a God-honoring offering. It exposes some. Judas sounds quite holy when he responds, This is a waste; it could have been sold and given to the poor (Matthew 26:8; John 12:5). But what the lady brought was not for sale. It was for sharing, for giving to the Lord Jesus. Judas called it a “waste.” Waste? Waste comes in hoarding up possessions. Waste comes when we keep them from their proper use. There is a lot of waste in the church of the Lord Jesus today. However, most of it is in hoarded resources, and many good men and women will go to their graves with large estates which came from the blessing of God upon them. But what good will it do for the gospel? No, Mary’s gift was not a waste even though, like many God-honoring gifts today, it was perplexing to some who do not know the joy of giving.
IV. It is pleasing to Christ (vv. 7-8; Matthew 26:10)
Our Lord listened to Judas, he saw the broken alabaster box, he felt the oil on his feet, he smelled the perfume in the air, he saw the sweet look of love and sacrifice on her face as she knelt at his feet, and he said, You have done a beautiful thing to me! (Matthew 26:10). The Lord Jesus wrote Mary’s biography that day with those words and recorded it for all posterity. When he writes your biography and mine, I don’t think He will look so much at our prayer journal nor Bible notes as much as at our checkbook. What do your canceled checks say about your love for this one who said, Where your treasure is, there is where your heart will be also. The most important thing about a God-honoring offering is that it is pleasing to Christ.
Long before we thought about giving anything to God, He gave to us. He broke His own alabaster box and poured out on us that which was precious to Him, His only son. This gift became pleasant to others. We are testimonies today of the fact that the gift of Christ is what makes life worth living. Yes, even His gift is perplexing to some. Some today still view the gospel story as “waste.” Finally, the gift of Christ was pleasing to the Father as Isaiah 53:10 attests.
Mary knew the Lord Jesus would not need a marble monument. He would not be in the grave long enough for it to be engraved! So, she did what she could and poured out her gift on His feet. It, like our own God-honoring offerings, was precious to her, pleasant to others, perplexing to some, but mainly, pleasing to Christ. He said, You have done a beautiful thing unto me! Paul said it like this: We make it our aim…to be well-pleasing to Him (2 Corinthians 5:9).