This morning I caught a glimpse of a public television segment about the way the stars are lined up for romance this Valentines day. I wondered if that was what God had in mind when He planned their route!
He does line up things, I am sure of that. This week, I’m studying ‘patient endurance’ for my ladies Bible class. I am also in a trial that requires patient endurance, and yesterday life confronted me with another trial demanding the same thing. This latest one is far more difficult; the biblical response is beyond me. I’ve no desire, motive or reason for being ‘longsuffering’ for this other person, other than I know that is what God wants.
However, God lined up one more thing—my devotional reading for today. It is one line from Matthew 26, “But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, ‘Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me.’”
Jesus was eating a meal when a woman (Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha) broke a costly alabaster flask filled with expensive oil and poured it on His head. Initiated by Judas, the disciples were indignant and complained that the oil should have been sold and the money given to the poor. To them, what she had done was a waste of resources.
I feel the same thing about the ‘longsuffering’ required of me. What good will it do? I’m a results-oriented person. However, even though God is teaching me to ‘do the right thing regardless of the results,’ I am protesting under this latest ‘opportunity to do the right thing.’
To the disciples, Jesus said that the poor were always there, and that they could always find things to do for them, but Mary did what she did for Him, to anoint Him for His burial.
My devotional book points out that when the other women went to Jesus’ tomb to anoint Him, He was gone. Mary was the only one who anointed Him; the others were too late. Jesus said, “Wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” Her act of obedience had long-range effects.
This is grace. He knew the sacrifice Mary made; that oil was worth at least one year’s wages. He knew she would suffer criticism from His disciples, yet her reward remains.
To me Jesus says, “There are always opportunities to do things that bring visible results. I’m asking you to trust Me on this one, and like Mary, do it for Me.”
This also is grace. He offers me a reason, a strong motivation to be longsuffering towards this other person. He knows I cannot endure without any hope of reward. So He lined things up so I can see that He is simply asking me to do it for Him.