Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Extravagant Love

Mary of Bethany came to the feet of Jesus, once again, and poured over Him an alabaster jar full of perfume. It was a sacrificial offering of her love. Jesus says that it was beautiful, and He sticks up for her, despite a band of critics (the disciples) who thought her offering was a waste.

I’ve been immersed in this story found in Mark 14 for the past week, on my six-week journey of speaking on “Remarkable Moments with the Savior.” The aroma of the story has permeated my heart and my mind in powerful ways, and I am convicted and encouraged as I dig deep in to the story. I won’t be able to consolidate my whole lesson on the blog – so I thought I would just share a couple of points that I think are thought provoking, perhaps even life changing.

1. Each time we meet this Mary of Bethany in the scriptures, she is at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him and loving Him. That is a good place for us to be, as well.

2. Mary gave lavishly and lovingly to Jesus (the worth of a whole year’s wages). She was not embarrassed to show her love for Him. Neither should we be.

3. Mary’s love for Jesus flowed out of a confident belief that she belonged to Him and that He loved her very much – with an extravagant love – a love that gave His life for her. If we really know that love, I don’t think we can help but being crazy in love with Him, either.

4. Jesus stuck up for her. She did not need to fear others; Jesus was there to validate her and honor her. Our identity does not need to be determined by what others think of us – God knows who we are, and that determines our worth.

5. Nothing that touches the life of Jesus or that He touches is wasted. Nothing.

6. Mary seized the moment to love Jesus, when she could, where she could, in a way in which she could. There are opportunities that come in to our lives which we must seize at the moment – they may never happen again.

7. The aroma of Mary’s offering filled the room. When we love the Lord and others in His name, there is also a sweet aroma of godliness that permeates the space and hearts of those around.

As we become aware of the deep love of Jesus has for us, we will have an increasing passion to pour out an extravagant love for Him and for others.

Mary did what she could. We cannot do everything, but we can take the gifts and resources that God gives us and love Him with those. Maybe it means spending more time with Him, praising Him, sacrificing money for Him, or waiting for Him. Extravagantly loving the Lord may look like trusting Him despite the outward appearances of our circumstances. Saying, “I’m going to love you, Lord, by believing you.”

We can also love others with an extravagant love, as a result of understanding what the Lord has done for us. Again, we cannot do everything, but we can do something. Write a note. Bake a pie. Make a visit. Plant flowers for a friend. Clean a house. Walk a dog. Hold a hand. Give a special gift. Speak a kind word. Extravagant love can also be expressed as patience, forgiveness, speaking the truth boldly but gently, sharing in another’s joy, or offering a sympathetic ear. It does not need to cost a year’s wages (as Mary’s did) – sometimes the most valuable gift is a gift of yourself.

I think the more we are aware of God’s extravagant love for us, the more we are able to love extravagantly. Dear reader, seek Him today. See and believe that He loves you so very much. It is beautiful.

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