The Culture of Jesus – Safe to Work

But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6).

With Jesus it was safe:

  • Safe to work.
  • Safe to be different.

Mary wasn’t stealing a car or robbing a bank. She didn’t go out and kill 20 people. Nor was she trying to sell crack to school kids. She wasn’t attempting to lead people down some false doctrinal path. All she did was take some extremely valuable fragrant oil and dedicate it to Jesus for His burial. And how did the apostles and others respond? Negativity, criticism and judgment.

“Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” That was the advice Jesus gave His disciples. They had criticized Mary sharply, scolding her for wasting the fragrant oil by pouring it out on Jesus. The disciples had better ideas on how she could have used that oil to minister to the poor. But Jesus didn’t see it that way. He also added that wherever the gospel was preached, this woman’s act of sacrifice, honor and love would shared with the whole world (Mark 14; Matthew 26; John 12).

Think of the environment and culture the disciples had created by their judgmentalism. Without Jesus there to help, would it have been safe for Mary to step out and do what she did for Jesus? Not at all. They were “troubling her” instead of encouraging her. Jesus was helping the others learn, grow and change to see that this way of pouncing on people with criticism is not His way. This culture of criticism is alive and well in today’s churches, communities, families and businesses, and Jesus wants to transform us, too.

Was it safe for Mary to work and be different? Not at this point with the disciples. They were going to have to be transformed by Jesus. But with Jesus she was safe. With Jesus it was safe to step out and work for Him, even if it was different than how others would have served. This is not to say it is okay with Jesus to teach different doctrines – we’re talking about living within the realm of God’s word. Mary was clearly living within God’s word; she just did something in a way that others thought was a waste.

How about us? Are we like the disciples? Do we insult people, belittle others and make them feel dumb for having different ideas? Then we need a culture change, and that starts in the heart. Come to Jesus and ask Him to help you change how you approach others around you so that they feel safe to step out and work for Jesus.

You Anoint My Head with Oil

Psalm 23:5 – …you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 

Today’s article is inspired by chapter 10 of A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller.

In this chapter, the experienced shepherd, Phillip Keller, talks about how he anointed his sheep and more importantly why. He spoke of all kinds of nasty bugs and critters that will absolutely drive a sheep crazy, or make them sick. Keller also spoke of “scab” that afflicts the sheep.

The cure for treating his sheep from certain parasites and flies was anointing their heads, faces, noses and ears with a combination of oils and other remedies. The shepherd was anointed the sheep’s head with oil to bring comfort and healing and peace. A ewe would bash its head against fences and walls because flies were driving her bonkers. But after her “anointing,” she was contented and at peace because the shepherd anointed her.

You can look throughout scripture to see God or His leaders “anointing” His people for various reasons. The anointing was sometimes for healing (John 9:11; James 5:14; Mark 6:13; Luke 10:34) . Other times it was a calling to a specific work like a priest or king (Psalm 2:2; 89:20-21). Those anointed by God were also under his protection (Psalm 28:8; 105:15). Sometimes it was to honor and show gratitude to someone, which happened to Jesus more than once (Luke 7:36-50; John 12:1-8). We also see that God’s anointing involved teaching and guiding His people (Psalm 132:17; 1 John 2:20-21,27). But above all that, God anoints His people to say, “You are mine!” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). Also remember that God’s anointing is an oil of gladness – it was true for Jesus and it is also true for us (Psalm 45:7; Isaiah 63:3)!

God is our shepherd. He anoints us to care for us, to teach us, to protect us, to heal us, and to reassure us. We are His sheep, and He loves us. And when He anoints us, our cup truly overflows.

Do You See This Woman?

Yesterday, Anna and I heard an incredible sermon by brother Mike Sullivan in Lafayette, Indiana. Mike’s sermon came from Luke 7:36:50 which is the account of the sinful woman, Jesus and Simon the Pharisee. I don’t believe the sermon audio is available yet, but here is the link for the church’s sermon page for you to check later. This question of Jesus, “Do you see this woman?” is a question that would serve us well to consider.

For today, please take a few minutes to read Luke 7:36-50. Meditate upon what the Holy Spirit says here in the text. As you read it, think about two of the questions that Mike asked the congregation to consider:

  1. Are you more like Jesus or Simon the Pharisee? How Jesus saw this woman was light years away from how Simon the Pharisee saw this woman. Simon saw a woman who disgusted him. Jesus saw a sinner who was deeply overwhelmed with gratitude and love because of His grace, mercy and forgiveness. Both men saw her sins, even Jesus said, “they are many,” (Luke 6:47). However, the two men saw her and her sins from completely different perspectives.
  2. Are you more like the sinful woman or more like Simon the Pharisee? Simon saw in himself very little need for mercy from Jesus because he was self-righteous. The sinful woman clearly understood that she was unrighteous and in desperate need of the grace of Jesus. Mike made the observation that how we view the grace and mercy of Jesus is directly correlated to our love and devotion to Jesus. She “loved much” because she understood how much Jesus loved her first (Luke 6:47; 1 John 4:19).

Do You See This Woman?

A final thought for this morning comes back to one of the questions Jesus asked Simon the Pharisee. “Do you see this woman?” (Luke 6:44). Think of how Simon initially saw the woman. Sinful. Disgusting. Shameful. Inappropriate behavior in his house. Now think about how Jesus wanted Simon to see the woman upon second look. Also, consider how Jesus wanted Simon to see himself.

This is critical stuff, men. Let’s think about these things today.

He who loves wine and oil

He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not become rich (Proverbs 21:17).

There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man swallows it up (Proverbs 21:20).

A very good friend of mine says often, “You have time and money to do what you want to do.” Folks don’t like it when he says it, but he is right. Surely we can find exceptions to that principle, but it is generally true, especially here in America. People have money, they simply choose to spend it on a lot of frivolous stuff. Video games, going out to eat, movies, impulse purchases, etc., all can drain a bank account in a hurry.

What happens often is that we spend $5 here and $10 there and we think, “No big deal, its only $5.” But all those small purchases add up, don’t they? Before long, you look back at your account – you spent $100 to $200 on “wine and oil.”

And then…a repair comes up. You might be tempted to say, “I don’t have any money for that,” but you might want to look back at what you have spent for the past two or three months.

Financial restraint

The Proverbs referenced above show ancient wisdom that is still relevant today. If you love pleasure (wine and oil), you will be bankrupt. A wise person saves and shows financial restraint, while a foolish person spends all that he has. There is no end to the things on which we can spend money. Yes, put aside money for fun things, but show self-control. Learning to say “No” is a vital tool when it comes to our finances.

Fathers, this is a valuable lesson from Proverbs not only to live for ourselves, but to teach to our children.