Are you doing what you can? And how do you know?

One of my favorite verses is this one:

“She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.”
(Mark 14:8 ESV)

I believe that is all God asks of us. I often don’t have the words pop into my head that I want to say at times. I often don’t get the opportunities to witness that I wish I did. And I don’t have the gift of being able to draw attention to myself; I am very often just a face in the crowd.

But, I do believe, by God’s grace, I do what I know to do and am always looking for opportunities to serve Christ. So, I take comfort in the knowledge that while I often wish I could or would do more for Jesus, God knows I am (almost) always ready. I AM human you know.

I truly believe that God will provide opportunites for two kinds of people: those who are seeking and those who are looking for them.

Peace and grace!

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12 responses to this post.

  1. You are right on TARGET! Great post~~ I have never heard anyone comment on that verse before…

    I sure would like you to add me as a friend on FACEBOOK. When you post an update, just copy the link to FACEBOOK so that I can access it. You also get a lot more people viewing your post by doing this.

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  2. Posted by indywatchman on July 9, 2009 at 5:50 am

    Prodigal,

    Are we doing what we can, and how do we know?

    That is a very good question. You say that you are “human.” Is it not in our humanness that we draw back from “doing what we can”? The curse of our humanness is death. Death and re-birth has changed that equation somewhat. That re-birth constitutes a significant change that separates us from the “human” race, we are now sons of the Most High God, a God who is Spirit.

    I am not trying to split hairs here, but something important is occurring with the woman in your verse that needs more clarity. To say “she did what she could” puts the focus on her humanness of not being able to do what she should, but only what she could. This woman possessed something that was not understood by the others who observed her actions. The verse might be better rendered, “what she could do, she did,” she gave her very best, her all. This woman has seen something that was lacking in the others, she has had a revelation of great value that far surpassed the value of the costly perfume she had cherished, and was no doubt saving for some special occasion in her own life, like a wedding. The flask or vial, the verse says, was broken. It was something that she was pleased to do. It was only because of the brokenness that a release was possible. Before the alabaster box was broken, she, herself, had been broken, “a broken and contrite spirit I will not despise” says the Lord. Brokenness and contriteness, worthlessness and shame, reduces earthly things, like expensive perfume, to objects of service to our God.

    Can you imagine the smell that permeated the place? Everyone was affected by this selfless service, and the results were carried with them wherever they went, like Moses when he came down from the mountain. What she could do, she did.

    This woman was in the presence of her Lord and this opportunity to bless Him and love Him would not pass her by, regardless of the critics. She had seen Him who is invisible, and she anointed His flesh, knowing He would die, as a prelude to her own salvation.

    What a wonderful picture of selfless giving. What she could do, she did.

    A few other examples of this same spirit are given below.

    “Now for the house of my God I have prepared with all my might: gold for things to be made of gold, silver for things of silver, bronze for things of bronze, iron for things of iron, wood for things of wood, onyx stones, stones to be set, glistening stones of various colors, all kinds of precious stones, and marble slabs in abundance. Moreover, because I have set my affection on the house of my God, I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, my own special treasure of gold and silver:” 1 Chron 29:2-4

    “Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the Lord his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered.” 2 Chron 31:20-21

    “Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” 2 Cor 8:1-4

    “And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” 2 Cor 8:10-12

    Blessings,

    Steve Blackwell
    http://www.indywatchman.com

  3. I am a poor steward of the gifts God has given me. I do not use them like I ought for the benefit of my neighbor.

    But thanks be to God, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

    I would expect, though, that the Lord is very capable of using me (in my poor state) to accomplish what He will, even through my sin.

  4. Posted by indywatchman on July 9, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    This really isn’t about what God is able to use. God can use John 3:16 on a baseball cap. God has hirelings that accomplish His will, and who even preach the Gospel. This verse is about what we have seen, and our response.

    Steve B.

  5. Steve B.,

    I was only answering the question (from my point of view) in the title of the blog post.

    And trying (once again) to place the onus and focus back to God and His work for us…and away from what WE DO.

    – Steve M.

  6. Posted by indywatchman on July 9, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Steve M.

    I can appreciate that, and that is a worthy goal.

    Steve B.

  7. Thank you, Steve.

    You are a good man!

    Steve M.

  8. Steve B.

    I understand exactly what you are saying. She gave what she could, and what she gave was her all! She could have helf back a part or most of that expensive perfume, but instead she broke the bottle rnedering it impossible to do anything but spend it all on Jesus. And I do understand that her spiritual insight was what Jesus actually praised. I really like it that it emphasizes the same theme as the “widow’s mite”. What we have to offer our Lord may seem insignificant or even inappropropriate to others, but God honors us when we give from our heart what we can in our limited understanding.

    Thanks for the comments, both Steves!

  9. Pardon my typos, I’m up too late, again!

  10. Posted by Ed Franklin on July 27, 2009 at 6:08 am

    Good insight! I think you’re right on the money when you focus on the fact that she gave ALL–not withholding part of the ointment, or preserving the jar, or any other selfish, half-way effort like we are all capable of. This scene defines “worship” She recognized Christ for Who He is; she was oblivious to the others in the room; she was not concerned about what they thought of her actions. Her focus was on Him!

  11. Posted by indywatchman on August 29, 2009 at 7:50 am

    Ed,

    I’m surprised that this verse does not receive more attention than it does. The depth of ones insight into who Jesus really is, is monumental in this passage of Scripture. Does anyone comprehend the real significance of what is taking place here. Isn’t it our own selves that need to be broken, the “vial” of our flesh and soul, that contains a treasure untold. God has given us much wisdom in His Word as to the adequate response of someone who has seen Him who is invisible, for example:

    Job 22:21-26
    “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored: If you remove wickedness far from your tent and throw your gold into the dust, your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines, then the Almighty will be your gold,
    the choicest silver for you. Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God.”

    Rom 12:1-2
    “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.”

    These are not just good pieces of advise, but the absolute minimum, if we want to know God. Have you ever thought about what it means to offer yourself as a living sacrifice? We get a picture of what offering a lamb meant. The one offering the sacrifice would go out to his flock and look for the very best lamb, not second best, the very cream of them all. He looks intently at several good ones, then glances over to his son, holding the family pet, the most perfect of them all, a beautiful little lamb, the one that was going to start that new flock, the one that would provide you with the retirement funds for your relaxing old age; that is the one, the one the Lord wants, a sweetest smelling savior. He delivers to the priest the little lamb, and watches as the priest puts the knife to its throat, and watches as the blood runs out onto the ground, and the lamb laid onto the altar, and watches as his life goes up in smoke. The man is broken. It is as if he himself were on that altar: crushed, broken, having held back nothing, sad and wondering what this obedience means, such a great lose, his son wonders and watches his father in true worship of brokenness.

    To give our all, to offer our self as a living sacrifice is to spare nothing, nothing at all, and to be accepted by Him who is invisible, and inherit all things. We can take nothing across that threshold of our service to God.

    This is what this passage and others are trying to get across to us hard headed followers who can’t get our eyes off our 401k’s, stock options, and savings accounts. The Gospel is no longer the Gospel to the “poor” (of all kinds) but rather the Gospel to the rich, we want our riches now, then go bouncing off to Heaven.

    The Lord is telling us all to sacrifice all for Him who is everything.

    Steve Blackwell
    http://www.IndyWatchman.com

  12. Thanks, Steve, for that refreshing reminder. The picture story you present about the perfect lamb being what was hardest to give up is very poignant and challenging. God has every right to whatever He asks for. After all, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
    (Revelation 4:11 ESV)

    I’m reading a book now, called “Wayward Christian Soldiers” by Charles Marsh which is pretty much the truth about so many so-called Christians these days. The book is tilted to far toward the “social justice gospel” to please me, but his criticisms of many evangelicals’ meshing of politics and faith is spot on. People in most churches are there to “get”, not give; or to give in order to get – connections, approval, or a soothed conscience. Not too many of us, myself included, really know what sacrifice is, much less are capable of concentrating long enough on God and His will to even begin any kind of “giving up” of things.

    I would suggest most people should start at giving God a reasonable amount of their time. Things would progress from there, I believe.

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