“And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came in with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, ‘Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.’ And they scolded her. But Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me…And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.’’’ Mark 14:3-9
Only our Lord knows the state of our heart. Only He knows how best we are to use what He has given us. There will always be people who think we should have done things differently. That we should use our resources, our time, our talents in “better” ways. But Jesus calls us to follow Him, to honor Him, to love Him with all of our heart, and that isn’t always going to make sense to the people around us or look the way they would expect.
I’ve been learning to simplify my focus. To not compare myself with how a love for God looks in others’ lives, but to just focus on what it looks like in mine. Our stories are different. Our hearts are different. Our strengths, weaknesses, fears, passions, personalities—God has made each of us unique so that He can be uniquely glorified in us. So we don’t need to get caught up in what other people say or think. And we don’t need to judge them for their choices. We simply need to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and pour ourselves out for Him. Not to put on a show or become self-righteous, but purely to delight in our precious Lord and trust Him with the outcome. Trust Him to accomplish His perfect purposes in our lives. Following where He leads, we’re trusting that He knows what He’s doing and why.
Dwelling on this, I’m reminded of this story in Luke: “Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42).
In case you’re unfamiliar with Luke’s background, his gospel was written as he spoke to eye-witnesses. He took kind of the role of an investigative reporter, talking with everyone he could to get first-hand accounts, to determine what actually happened there. I wonder who Luke was speaking to when he heard this story? I wonder if it was Martha, if these compassionate words from her Savior so affected her heart that this moment was burned into her memory? Because His words, I am certain, were not said to scold her, but to lovingly lead her to the better portion—Christ. To remind her with kindness and grace that Jesus is the treasure. He is the focus. While earthly responsibilities have their place, He is the One by whom we should be captivated.
It’s easy to lose that focus. To get caught up in expectations, even to be so intent on serving the Lord well that we become consumed with it, anxious that everything turn out as we envision. Let us calm and quiet our souls, remembering to simply sit at the feet of our Savior and learn from Him. Let us simplify our focus so that we are truly delighting in Him, and just let that delight, that love, pour out of you as God stirs your heart to join Him in His work. It may appear reckless to the outside world, but it is beautiful to your Savior. Listen to Him, follow Him, and let Him lead you down His beautiful, unexpected path.