But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a good service for me. For you will always have the poor with you, and you can do good for them whenever you want. But you will not always have me! She did what she could. She anointed my body beforehand for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
–Mark 14:6-9 NET
There has been an explosion of organizations and individuals asking for money. You now see Go Fund Me requests on Facebook while getting yet more appeals by mail, email, and even texts. While watching TV, you see ads to help suffering children or pets, or for some other cause. All this competes with opportunities to be generous to your friends, family, neighbors, and those at your church. You want to be generous, but how do you decide who to help or where to give?
The woman in Mark 14:3-9 faced a similar decision. Her unexpectedly lavish act was to anoint Jesus with expensive perfume—a decision for which she was deeply criticized. They asked why she hadn’t sold the perfume and given the money to the poor. Surely, that would have been better than what she chose to do!
But Jesus rebuked those critical of her actions. They had completely missed the bigger picture. He praised the woman for paying attention to what he was saying—that he would soon die—and focusing her generosity on preparing his body beforehand for burial.
Random acts of generosity may look good, but they often accomplish little that lasts. If you want to be generous in a way that will have a lasting impact, pay attention to what God is doing. Don’t miss the crucial opportunities He has put in front of you. Like the woman with her expensive perfume, focus your most lavish acts of generosity on God’s mission in the world around you.
Any generosity is a good thing. Focused generosity is a great thing!
ACTION: Take time to meditate on what God has been doing around you. What unique opportunities are in front of you this week? What is God asking you to do to join in with what He is doing?