This past week has been an emotionally trying one for me. I found myself in a state of burn-out as I’ve been pouring out so much for others. I consider it such an honor to be entrusted with the circle of influence in my life and love that God has enabled me to be a source of prayer and encouragement to my friends and family going through significant relationship issues.
In the midst of emotional exhaustion for their suffering, the Lord spoke to me. I was reminded of the story of the woman who poured out her alabaster jar of perfume (or oil) on Jesus. I happen to like the detailed account as found in Mark 14:3-10:
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.’ And they rebuked her harshly.
‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’ ”
First let’s look at this grand gesture of worship and admiration this woman had for Jesus. The alabaster jar she had may have been an heirloom or a piece of dowry handed down from her family. It was likely the most valuable possession she owned. Alabaster jars of expensive perfumes were generally given to women of this time as a symbol of their worth when presented with marriage. In some commentaries I read, this perfume was used to anoint her fiancé after a marriage proposal.
This woman’s act of worship was essentially giving all of her worth away to her one, true love: Jesus. In John’s gospel account, Judas Iscariot was especially mentioned as one who objected to her outpour. And it’s no surprise considering his mind was frequently on the money and he would be the one to sell out Jesus for profit.
The point that I want to make, though, is that Jesus recognized her selfless act of love and devotion as of higher worth than the monetary value of the perfume.
The Holy Spirit guided me to really understand the relative significance of this story. He helped me to see that He has equipped each of us with a special anointing on our lives. We each have our own “alabaster jar” of perfume that is precious, highly valuable and is to be preserved. We must guard and protect it so as not to waste it on anyone other than those He anoints. The sad reality is, not everyone will recognize and honor your worth.
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. (Proverbs 31:10)
A man’s greatest treasure is his wife—she is a gift from the Lord. (Proverbs 18:22)
I began to think of this in terms of dating and marriage. Of course, physical purity comes to mind. But beyond that, I believe it’s a matter of our heart as well. We have to really embrace who we are in Christ and operate in such a way that glorifies Him. We must accept that we are bought at a high price (the blood of Jesus), we are chosen, special, a treasure, anointed and set apart.
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23 NLT)
I encourage you today to take inventory of your perfume and examine the condition of your heart to see if you’ve been pouring out your precious oil on people who are unable to recognize and appreciate your God-given worth. Begin to embrace your anointing and operate in your Kingdom identity. When you do, it will become easy to protect your heart and realize that there is someone who God has in your future that is able to honor the treasure you are, and is deserving of calling you their husband or wife.
Where have you been pouring out your perfume lately?