Like a Jar of Expensive PerfumeDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head.
Recently my nine-year-old son Rowan, a beginner violist, attempted to tune his instrument before performing a Christmas “concert” for his grandparents. After an hour of fruitless fiddling and many frustrated tears, Rowan finally allowed my dad to call a local music shop for help. They found someone willing to squeeze them in that afternoon.
Two hours later Rowan burst through the front door with a tuned viola. “The guy even did it for free!” he exclaimed, as he rosined the bow and prepared to play.
Later I learned that the music store employee had refused to accept payment for the tuning, but my dad had handed him a ten-dollar bill anyway, “just to say thanks.” The employee had gone out of his way, my dad pointed out, and had been generous with his time just two days before Christmas, on undoubtedly one of his busiest days of the year.
As Christians we understand that money is of this world. We know there are far more important things—like kindness, gratitude, obedience, love, and service—on which to focus our attention. We know that money’s not everything, not even close.
Yet in guarding ourselves so vigilantly against the evils of money, we often forget something important: the gift of money can send a powerfully positive, beautiful, and affirming message.
The woman who poured an entire alabaster jar of expensive perfume over Jesus’ head seized the moment to demonstrate just how much she valued him. She spared no expense. She didn’t simply tell Jesus how she felt, she showed him, with a gesture so over-the-top, so wildly extravagant, Jesus’ own disciples chided her for such waste.
Jesus, though, didn’t see her demonstration of adoration and appreciation as wasteful. In fact, he commended the woman’s extravagance, noting that her gesture would be remembered in the future.
While verbal affirmations and accolades are important, money, too, can be used well to demonstrate gratitude and appreciation. As Christians, many of us recoil from that idea, but the fact is, money is not inherently dirty or bad. A raise, tip, bonus, or even something as simple as a fair wage all communicate appreciation and gratitude. Monetary reward tells the recipient that his contributions are valued. It tells him his work matters—that he matters—sometimes in ways that mere words might fall short.
My dad’s ten-dollar tip to the music store employee wasn’t alabaster-jar extravagant. But it was unexpected, and in some ways, it was even a little bit over-the-top. He seized the opportunity not only to tell the employee he was appreciated, but to show him in a tangible way that he mattered and was valued. I suspect my dad’s generosity will be remembered by that man in the future. I know it will be remembered by me.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How do you feel about offering money as a reward for services or to show appreciation? Do you ever hesitate to offer money—such as a tip, a reward, or a bonus? Does being a Christian impact your decision to give or not give money? Why or why not?
PRAYER: Lord, thank you for teaching me about the dangers of loving money and for protecting me against its lure. Help me be generous with my resources; show me how and when to bless others in ways that go beyond my words. Amen.
After we published a week of content with the theme heading Making Money, we received a message encouraging us to consider the flip side, as well. What about Christians who fail to pay well, who complain about leaving a tip or who balk at paying an honest rate, especially when doing business with other Christians? What does the Bible have to say about this, and what is fair to expect when doing business with Christians and non-Christians alike? Is there a difference? Should there be? What has been your experience? Join us for this series, Paying Well, as we consider personal stories and biblical instruction for leading well as Christians in the world, especially when it comes to determining what to pay.
Featured image by Chris Potter. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.