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2018 07p1Women in the Bible are often unnamed, and yet the snippets of their stories, scattered throughout, provide a wealth of wisdom, quietly challenging our own faith… So it is with the woman who offers the extravagant gift, lavishly pouring expensive perfume from an alabaster jar over the feet of Jesus. (Luke 7:36-50)

Her story is told in all four gospels and may tell of one woman or several. Either way, this is another woman who stops to pause from her everyday life to kneel at the feet of Jesus in worship. Her extravagant actions echo the enormity of her grateful heart. They are a sacrificial response to the wonder of great forgiveness. As Christians, each of us has received enormous blessings through the forgiveness of sins and acceptance as children of God. Our debt has been paid once and for all through the agony of the cross yet I wonder how grateful we really are? As I consider the woman’s lavish response and reflect as I stitch , I cannot but help think that my response to all that Jesus has done for me, is meagre in comparison…

So what lessons can I learn from the unique actions of this incredibly brave woman?

Grateful giving

Firstly, our giving is to be out of love and in grateful response for all that God has done for us, not out of duty, for this makes our giving pleasing to the Lord.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
I wonder how often I give reluctantly rather than willingly and whether my giving reflects my gratitude?

Unafraid to give

Despite the criticism and public exposure to ridicule, this woman was confident in her self-worth and her new identity as a forgiven follower of Christ. Her response was unhindered by the actions of the majority. She was unafraid to step to the fore; willing to be misunderstood, to step out and step up to publicly to worship her Lord and Saviour.
In the light of this, I wonder how willing I am to step out of the familiar, to publicly proclaim my allegiance to God and risk exposure to ridicule and criticism, in whatever way is right in my situation?

Give what you can

We are not expected to give or do what we cannot, yet each of us is called to offer up what we have to create ” a beautiful thing.” This woman owned a beautiful jar of expensive perfume, yet rather than keep it her herself, she was willing to break it open to release beautiful actions that would be honoured, received with compassion and understanding, and remembered for all time.
I wonder if Jesus could say the same words to me at this time? “She has done what she could…(Mark 14:8)

Sacrificial giving

We are told that the perfume poured over the feet of Jesus, was worth a whole years wages! This rather puts things into perspective for me.
Would I be so willing to humbly offer this amount of money, or time, trusting that God would provide for me?

2018 07p2Giving hospitality

At the heart of this story is the woman’s immense showering of hospitality onto Jesus. In fact, Jesus chastises Simon for his lack of basic hospitality.
I am moved to question how lacking in hospitality I might be, to those I encounter when I have been given so much? I wonder, too, what practical response the Lord is asking of me having considered this story?

Fragrant offerings

” The house was filled with fragrance.” ( John 12:3) The actions of the woman or women who anointed Jesus feet, was accepted as a fragrant offering of praise. I wonder what humble or extravagant actions might be my fragrant offering to such a gracious God, who loves me, forgives my every failing and longs for me to come to him?

Surely, extravagant worship is the only possible response to our extravagant God?

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