Put God First
There's something about generosity that creates a very sweet fragrance. When people
give and there's nothing in it for themselves, they've just given unexpectedly to you,
then there's something sweet about it. Generosity usually exposes greed. God is love
and you can't love without giving. You can give without loving, but you can't love without
giving, so the greatest way we express the love of God to people is when we can be
generous and kind to them with no agenda. That's when people see God, because
that's what God is like.
John 12. “Six days before the Feast of Passover, Jesus came to Bethany; where
Lazarus had been dead, whom He raised from the dead. There they made Him a
supper and Martha served, but Lazarus was one who sat at the table with Him.”
“Then Mary took a pound of costly ointment of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus,
wiped His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the oil, and one
of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said: why didn't
they sell this fragrant oil for three hundred denarii (a denarii is a day's wage) and given it
to the poor? And he said this, not because he cared for the poor…”
He implied he cared for the poor, but he didn't. Rather he was a thief, but he gave out
that he cared for the poor, but he was really a thief, and he had the money box. He used
to steal what was put in it. The offerings that were put in, he was stealing them.
Jesus said: “Leave her alone, she has kept this day for the day of My burial”. Jesus
So we saw that generosity is unlimited. You can be as generous, or as mean, as you
choose. It's a choice. Mary was deeply grateful; her brother had died, they'd gone to the
burial service, they'd buried him, mourned, had the wake. He was dead and buried.
Four days had gone by - there's no show of him ever coming back again, and she was
still in a stage of grieving.
Jesus came and brought life into a desperate and hopeless situation: Lazarus rose from
the dead, much to everyone's amazement. No one can do that except God, and so her
heart was deeply touched. Now the gratitude: just what can I give for all He's given to
So she took out something worth thousands and thousands of dollars - you imagine 300
day's wages. I don't know what you earn in a day, so just multiply that by a $100 a day:
300*$100/day = $30,000. We're talking very expensive offering here. She just
extravagantly put it out all over Jesus.
You notice that when people give extravagantly, a number of things happen. The first
thing that happened was: the house was filled with the atmosphere. There's something
about generosity that creates a very sweet fragrance. There's something about
generosity - with no agendas - that is very sweet.