Lavish Worship

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head.

Matthew 26:7

As Jesus was eating in the home of Simon, a leper whom Jesus had healed, a woman anointed Jesus’ head with expensive perfume. Though it was customary to anoint the heads of special guests with fragrant oil, this woman did something truly exceptional. It’s likely that her alabaster jar of perfume was a family treasure, worth as much as a person would earn in a whole year. It’s hard to imagine a more lavish expression of devotion to Jesus than this one.

My ingrained pragmatism puts me on the side of the disciples in this story, however. Had I been present in this event, my first instinct would have been to criticize the woman for wasting money. How much better to have used this perfume to feed the poor! But Jesus, who had spoken of feeding the hungry as a way of serving him (see Matt. 25:31-46), received this woman’s extravagant gift with gratitude, defending the appropriateness of her gift.

When I think about my own worship, whether in corporate services, personal devotions, or active discipleship, lavish is not a word I’d use to describe my actions. How might I characterize my worship? Careful. Restrained. Measured. Yet the example of the woman with the jar of perfume and Jesus’ response to her challenge me to give myself to him more completely, more whole-heartedly, more sacrificially, indeed, more lavishly.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How would you describe your worship? Have you ever offered a lavish gift to Jesus? What might it mean for you to worship lavishly?

PRAYER: O Lord, I’m struck today by how much the offering of this woman exceeds what I give to you. Her gift of perfume was extreme: a financial sacrifice, a risky public display of devotion. I, on the contrary, can be overly concerned about not looking too extreme. I want to worship you, but in ways that are measured. Forgive me, Lord, for my reticence in giving all that I am to you.

I don’t honestly know what my alabaster jar should be. In the past, it has been my willingness to take big risks in following your call. But I want to offer lavish worship to you today and in the future. By your Spirit, help me to know what this means. Show me what I can give to you even today, and tomorrow, and the next day. Help me, dear Lord, to be unrestrained in my offerings of devotion to you. Amen.

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