Torchbearers for Christ
Monday, February 19, 2018
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DO I ENJOY GIVING?

(Matthew 26:6-15)

 
Our reading describes an incident that took place a short time before our Lord’s crucifixion. He told his disciples, “You know that after two days is the feast of the Passover and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified” (Matthew 26:2). At about this time, Jesus was a guest in the home of Simon the leper, when a woman came to Him with an alabaster flask of very costly, fragrant oil, which she poured upon His head as He sat at the table (Matthew 26:6,7). In our culture, the pouring of fragrant oil upon a person’s head would seem a strange act, but then it was regarded as a token of highest respect. This woman was expressing her gratitude and love for the Lord Jesus. It was certainly a costly act but, for this woman, no expense was too great to express her affection for her Master. She gave lavishly, reminding us of the Lord’s words “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
 
Against the background of the Lord’s impending betrayal, His scourging, mockery and cruel crucifixion, one would have thought that His disciples would have made every effort to be caring, loving and sensitive to His needs and grateful for any effort that was made to comfort Him. He was about to give His all for the salvation of sinful men. Unhappily, we find some of the disciples expressing indignation towards the woman who expressed her love for the Saviour in such a generous way. To them it was a waste of money which could have been used for better purposes. We read, “When the disciples saw this they were indignant. Why this waste? This ointment could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor” (Matthew 26:8,9). The Lord Jesus certainly did not regard the woman’s lavish gift as being wasteful. He asked the disciples, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her” (Matthew 26:10-13). What a beautiful commendation! One could hope that the disciples felt humbled by their thoughtless outburst; the woman was doubtless overwhelmed with the Master’s response. 
 
Against this background, and in total contrast, Judas Iscariot’s betrayal should also be mentioned. We are told how he went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you? So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over” (Matthew 26: 14-16). What can we learn from this account? We have the Saviour’s selfless giving of Himself. Never was such a priceless gift offered to the human race and at such a supreme cost. Paul describes God’s gift in 2 Corinthians 9:15 saying, “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift”. He also speaks of “the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
 
We have spoken of the woman who poured the fragrant oil on the Saviour’s head. Hers was a loving act, a costly act, a criticised act, but a commended act.  The disciples’ criticism stands out in sharp contrast to the Saviour’s glowing approval of the woman’s generosity. Their remarks show a grudging spirit, without understanding of the significance of the woman’s insightful, loving act. We have the shameful greed of Judas Iscariot. His attitude is summed up in the words, “What will you give me?” This story, with its sharp contrasts in the matter of giving, raises a question we all need to ask ourselves. Am I a cheerful giver? Am I a grudging giver? Or is my attitude to be one of greed, which is the Judas spirit, “What will you give me? We know that the Lord loves a cheerful giver and that it is more blessed to give than to receive. May the Lord give us all the spirit of cheerful giving.
 
This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  For many years, he has travelled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.