A Life Not Wasted
Cooper P. Abrams III
He pleads for her to run away with him, but by her strength and depth of conviction, she stops him cold, replying, "It is my duty do be here with my people!"
Such a response might have been acceptable in the thirties, but sadly today such an appeal to duty or convictions, with most of our society, would be looked upon as unusual and outdated-----even by some people in the church.
How many of you know who was John Livingston? Nearly 200 years ago there were two Scottish brothers named John and David Livingstone. John had set his mind on making money and becoming wealthy, and he did. But under his name in an old edition of the "Encyclopedia Britannica" John Livingstone is listed simply as "the brother of David Livingstone."
And who was David Livingstone? (1813-1873) Everyone here has heard of David Livingstone the missionary carried the Gospel into darkest Africa and who with great hardship discovered the source of the Nile river. But of the fact that he was a great Christian man who gave his life to Christ and served the Lord in dark Africa is often overlooked. While John had dedicated himself to making money. . . .David had knelt and prayed giving his life to Christ.
Surrendering himself to Christ, Livingstone resolved, "I will place no value on anything I have or possess unless it is in relationship to the Kingdom of God." The inscription over his burial place in Westminster Abbey reads, "For thirty years his life was spent in an unwearied effort to evangelize."
On his 59th birthday David Livingstone wrote, "My Jesus, my King, my Life, my All; I again dedicate my whole self to Thee."
2. In John 12:3, she is identified as Mary the sister of Martha.
2. The first mention of her is when Jesus is visiting their home in Bethany and Mary is intently listening to Jesus. Her sister Martha is resentful because she had to prepare the meal by herself. (Luke 10:38-42)
Verse 39 reveals a great deal about Mary and what was important to her. “And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.”
Clearly, she was a person interested in spiritual things. When Jesus came into her home and began to teach she got as close as she could wanting to hear all He said.
Mary shows herself to be teachable. She wanted to learn and what Jesus said was important to her. Among men it is a special thing to find a person who is teachable and who wants to learn. They have a comprehension of reality that goes further than the material things of life. Material things are important to us in sustaining our lives, but material things have little value or meaning to a person who ignores the spiritual reality.
Life is more than meat. In Luke 12:16-21, Jesus used a parable which illustrated the proper attitude towards material things and what is truly important.
He was showing His disciples the important truth....that the believer in God is FIRST to seek righteousness....meaning being right with God....by living by faith committing each moment to Him...and God will take care of material needs.
Yet, sadly so many people try to put the cart before the horse. If I had more time, more money, more this or that....then I could better serve the Lord. Or If my circumstances were different I could better serve the Lord. That is not true. . .that is not living by faith.
What is God’s standard? God says “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2). Faithful in what? What you have and what are your circumstances. It is not a matter of having the right circumstances and everything in place. It is however, making the best of what you have.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill.
There is a quote that says “Opportunity only knocks once.” However, the Christian has opportunities all the time no matter where he is or what he is doing. But many are waiting for opportunities to serve the Lord that is right before them every day, in their home, family, among friends, work, in every day living.
Many miss opportunities because they are looking through worldly eyes.
Her focus on material things of putting a meal together shows her heart. By speaking sharply to the Lord she shows she showed she was not much interested in who He was or what He had to say.
She clearly was not interested in spiritual things. I do not think she diliberately decided to feel and act the way she did. She lost tract of the fact she was a child of God. She got to busy with taking care of her guest she forgot what was really important. It is easy for us to do that isn’t it? To busy making a living, keeping a house, raising our children, being busy with hobbies, etc.
There she was....with the Lord Jesus in her home....yet she was more interested material food....that the spiritual food for the soul. Colossians 1:9-14, Paul is commending these believers.
Drop down to verse 28-29 and read why Paul wanted these believers to understand spiritual things. This reveals the heart and drive of God’s preacher and teacher.....
“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”
There is coming an eternity. This life is short and soon will be over. We have a great opportunity even at the very moment in our lives to do something so very important...something with eternal results. What have an opportunity to honor and glorify the Savior....to show our true thanksgiving to Him.
5. In John 11:1-45, she is mentioned again when Jesus arrived after the death of Lazarus. When word came that Jesus was coming Martha went out on the road and met Jesus before he got their house. Mary, however remained in the house. Later, Jesus ask for her so Martha went and got her.
When Mary saw Jesus she broke down and cried and said to Him. "If you had here, my brother would not have died." Clearly, she had complete faith in the Lord, but it seems she did not comprehend that Jesus would raise her brother from the dead. Like in the lives of all who believe and put their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior, God was working in Mary’s life. In a few minutes she saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead. Her understanding of who Jesus was, was made even more complete....only God had the power to raise the dead.
7. The Bible says that she anointed Jesus with an "alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box and poured it on his head."
b. The oil itself was made from the plant called "Nard" (Heb. neôrd; Gk. nardos). It was an aromatic oil extracted from an East Indian plant. It was one of the most expensive.
c. Being "very precious" meant it was very expensive. This oils were used to anoint honored guests in the home and were used a perfume. They were also used in preparing a body for burial. Both uses would have been appropriate here.
d. Note Mark 14:8, when Jesus said she is come to anoint my body to the burying.
2. The problem with not doing our best is that we do come up short and do not enjoy the fruit of what doing our best produces.
"Give of you best to the Master, Give Him first place in your heart; Give him first place in your service, consecrate every part; Give and to you it shall be given, God His beloved Son gave, Gratefully seeking to serv Him, Give him the best that you have....." 2. Jesus knew Mary's heart. He knew she had done what she could.
2. Some give little to the Lord because they have no vision for what God can do through them.
2. She was simply in the best why she knew how to honor the Lord. Yet, Jesus said her act in anointing Him was in prelude to His death and burial. She was anointing His body before His crucifixion and death.
3. It is not clear whether she understood Jesus was shortly to be crucified and die. He had mentioned it to His disciples and probably others heard Him also.
4. But because she fully believed in the Lord and that she loved Him....for who He was....her Savior and God....she worshipped Him and gave probably the most expensive thing she owned to Him.
5. Certainly is was not wasted as of those who were in Simon the healed leper’s home thought. There are always those who see the world through carnal eyes and cannot see the true value of things.
Could I ask you in the scope of eternity....what will a day given to the Lord return to you?
What would a sacrifice of something of value such as money or you time....mean to you in eternity?
Do you see the point? Would a day of entertainment, or fun, or some desire fulfilled or person enjoyment be worth more to you if taken.....or instead the time given to the Lord.?
Mary was criticized for wasting this perfume. Do you understand that it was only temporal perfume that had to be stored in an alabaster jar to keep is fresh. It under the best of conditions if used would only bring a few moments sensual pleasure to the one who used it.
Mary saw what she owned in a very different light. All she had was for the Lord. And Jesus pointed it out very plainly to all who were there.
2. It is very simple: She did all she could. God required no more.
3. Every believer will one day stand before the Lord and give an account of our lives. That means every minute of it.
4. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 explains what is called the Bema Judgment. This is not for the unsaved or unbelievers. This is the judgment for believers. . .those who are truly the children of God.
5. The works of believers....including the works of this day will be placed in that refining fire. Mary’s works of that day will also one day be placed in that fire. How do you think it will fair in the fire? She will be greatly rewarded for her true devotion to the Lord. Her gift and act honored the Lord in His life and will honor Him at this judgment also.
6. Most do not understand that this judgment is for believers...who are rewarded....but the greater purpose is to give honor and glory to the Savior. He is glorified when we serve Him and give ourselves to Him wholly.
2. You see your life is about more that just you, your desires, and the things of your life. It is more about Him and what He created you to be....
3. It is more about His will for you.
That something is ourselves. Some may have more wealth than others which are by human standards more valuable than what others can give. But the point of this message that Jesus gave us is that God does not value material things...but the heart of the giver.
2. In Mark 12:40-44 it is recorded that Jesus was with His disciples by the treasury of the Temple and He called the disciple over to watch as people came by and gave their offerings. A widow came by and gave two mites. Jesus said of her:
Verse 44 “For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”
What then was the true value of the two mites? Rich men came by and gave great sums of money out of their abundance. But what was the true value of their offerings? Which paid the great dividend?
Which brought honor and glory to the Lord and was the product of a deep abiding trust in Jesus Christ? 3. The answer I believe is clear to us all isn’t it. That which honored the Lord. The rich men could just as well given such an honorable gift.... But the difference was they were not giving their all.....you see that is what the Lord requires....ALL OF US.
“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.” Matt. 6:33....
This is not a message about money is it? It is a message about faith and trust in the Lord. It is a message about what is truly in our hearts.....whether we truly love the Lord....or give Him lip service.
It is a message about what our very lives are about. It is a message about eternity.
It is a message which presents the reality of why we are here. To accomplish God’s will and purpose for us....or to waste it on ourselves.
The choice is ours....God will not force us to do what is right. But He stand ready and desiring to use us to accomplish His wonderful purposes and to reward us now and throughout all eternity for faithfully letting Him...direct our lives.
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