A pharmacy student gives her spare time to strengthen a fading ministry on campus. An emergency physician treats a patient only to have her show up in his ER the next week with the same petty complaint. A medical student spends 7 years in training and goes into ridiculous debt to practice in an obscure inner-city clinic.
Have you ever wondered if it’s worth it? Does spending yourself for Christ ever seem like a waste?
When Jesus was just days away from the cross, He was sharing a meal at a friend’s home when a woman broke a flask of wildly expensive perfume (think $30,000!) and poured it over his head (Mark 14:3) as a way of showing how much she valued him.
What a waste, right? That’s the reaction everyone else had. ‘This perfume could have been sold and used for the poor!’
But Jesus challenges their math: “She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them… she has done what she could.”
There’s a lot of things we can learn from the story, but let’s talk about just two for now. One is simply that using our very best resources for Christ is never a waste, even when it may not make sense to us or others.
I know a student at a local healthcare campus who, after 4 years of school, is enrolling in seminary. It would be easy to think that the past four years were a waste of his time and money, bearing little relevance to a career in ministry. But I’m confident Jesus doesn’t see it that way – that time was used for him, and he’ll incorporate it into this student’s future in ways that are not yet apparent.
The second thing is that, like the woman, God only calls us to do what we can (“she did what she could”). We may not have something of great monetary value to put at Jesus’ disposal, but we all have a certain amount of time and other things we can give to him. When we do that, he might choose to use it in ways that seem wasteful to us and others, but that’s up to him. His challenge to us is to value him, give what we can freely, and let him put our resources to work.
As we go throughout our week, it’s my prayer that God will give us hearts that are willing to ‘waste’ our time, and even our very selves, for him.