Encounters with God: Week 5
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you could have responded to something, yet didn’t because you knew it would be inappropriate or fruitless? Maybe you knew more about what was being talked about than the person speaking, but to correct them would embarrass them. Maybe you were told you were wrong, but you knew you were right. Maybe before you opened your mouth to respond, you realized that it would not be prudent to do so. We, hopefully, all learn this quality over time. It’s part of humility. Allowing yourself to be perceived wrong, for the sake of someone else. Knowing when it’s appropriate to speak up and when silence is needed, putting your personal feelings aside.
As a teenager, I wasn’t very good at this, to say the least. I remember one time, I argued with an adult about a ridiculously silly topic because I knew that what he was saying was wrong. I was not going to let him tell me I was mistaken. I refused to be wrong. Years later, I find that although, I’m still right about the topic, I was so wrong in that instance. Why did I feel I had to be heard? I was prideful. Why did I need to be right? To prove that I knew more than him about the topic. It’s a selfishness issue. We have a sinful nature to be heard and respected. However, this is the opposite of what Jesus Christ was like on earth. The Bible states that he “humbled Himself" and went to the cross. He had a reason to be perfectly prideful -- He was God. He chose not to be, though. How are we with humility?
In this passage, we see a woman desiring to see Jesus, with a purpose in mind. She wanted to anoint Jesus. She wanted to worship Him and give thanks for Him. However, when she found Jesus, I would imagine that she found the situation to be less than ideal. Jesus was in the house of Simon for a feast of sorts and there was a small crowd. This task would be much easier if Jesus was away from the crowds. There would be less questions, not so much exposure to her worshiping him. However, she decides that her anointing of Christ cannot wait. She enters the room, breaks her alabaster box, and anoints the feet of Jesus, in preparation for His death on the cross. She shows her sincere love for her Savior. This doesn’t sit well with the host, Simon. Worried, I would imagine, about the success of the party, he asked Jesus if He knows who it is that’s anointing Him. Jesus then puts him in his place. What humility it must have taken to walk into this scenario and wash the feet of Jesus, being someone with her reputation. Let’s look at a few reasons why she overcame her pride to do this.
Her Jesus was more important than her pride. There was such a love for Jesus, that she did not mind any repercussions that would fall upon her for crashing the party. Pleasing Jesus was all she had in mind. Are we willing to make ourselves look like a fool in the eyes of man to please God? Sure, this sounds easy, but do we truly put ourselves second? Do we think of how our actions will affect us, or how they will affect His kingdom? Are we in the business of Jesus, or ourselves? Do we take ownership and desire to lift up his name? While working in the world of customer service, I learned there were two kinds of people. The first were happy to have a job and get a paycheck, but if anything came up where someone questioned them or the company, they would quickly blame the situation on the company, making themselves look free of guilt. No way they would they take ownership of a situation. They had no problem making the company look bad for the sake of making themselves look innocent. On the other hand, there were those who were happy to work for the company. They didn’t mind taking ownership. They genuinely cared about the company they worked for, no matter what the situation. Which are we like towards Jesus? Do we like the benefits that He brings to our lives, just as long as it doesn’t require an “embarrassing encounter”? Do we seek to remain free from a little speculation or ridicule? Or do we love Him so much, that all else in our lives doesn’t matter; no pride or selfishness, just a desire to lift up Christ.
She gave up what was precious to her. She broke her alabaster box to anoint the feet of Jesus. The people at the party were astounded. They all wanted to know why she would do something like waste an expensive item on a feet washing. They wanted to know why she wasn’t a “good steward” of her belongings. I’m all for being a good steward and being wise with what God gives us, but sometimes we must break what we love most. I’m sure she bought this with care. I don’t envision her not caring about this ointment. I would imagine she paid a high price for it. Now, she is using it for Jesus. She gives it to the master. When we become humble, there’s nothing we won’t give to God. There’s no price to0 high. Are you willing to break open and give to Jesus what is most precious to you? That’s true humility.
To receive forgiveness, there must be humility. Jesus forgave her sins this day. However, it wouldn’t have happened if there had been pride. If she would have seen the crowd and thought “I can’t go in there, people may laugh at me”, there would have been no forgiveness from Christ. God "resisteth the proud," but gives grace to the humble. What causes a child to lie? The thought of punishment. The thought of being wrong. Yet if the child would just tell the truth, the punishment would be far less. They would gain favor with their parents for being honest. Are we so full of pride that we lie to God about our sin? Are we so full of pride that we lie to ourselves about needing forgiveness? We must learn humility. If we are going to encounter God, we must come with a humble attitude, empty of self.
Spend the rest of the time praying for one another. We can be humble, if we keep God first. When you keep God first, you are reminded that His glory is more important than your status!