All of us are familiar with the signs at most gas stations these days. Self-service or full-service; the choice is ours. We must make the same choice with regard to our service to God. Will we serve God to the fullest or will we be self-serving? Our service toward God is a subject of great importance. Too many Christians are following the world's philosophy and are serving self rather than the Lord. Notice that the Lord did not take Mary's actions lightly. What she did was to become known throughout the world. Since it was so important to our Savior, I believe it is worthy of our examination this evening.
I. Consider the Gift.
A. It was a work of love.
1. There is no value in any service if our hearts are not in it.
2. Service rendered out of habit is not true service.
3. Our first responsibility toward God is to love Him with all our hearts.
4. Jesus never said, "If you know what's good for you; you will keep my commandments" He said, "If you LOVE me, you will keep my commandments."
5. What Mary did was important to Jesus because it was a work of love.
B. It was a work of sacrifice.
1. This was not some ordinary ointment that she used, it was 'spikenard very precious'.
2. John tells us that it was very costly, worth at least 300 pence.
3. The average pay for a day's work was a penny; so this was nearly a year's wages in value.
4. She did not give to Jesus what cost her nothing. (unlike many today: they give Jesus the leftovers)
5. This was truly a sacrificial gift; we have never really 'done what we could' for Him if our service has not been costly to us.
6. Too often the Lord gets what's left instead of our best; sacrificial giving of our time and our talents is a very rare thing indeed.
C. It was a work of faith.
1. Jesus said, "...she is come a forehand to anoint my body to the burying."
2. How did she know what the outcome of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem would be?
3. NOTE: Luke 10:38-42
a. Martha was busy doing what really wasn't needful.
b. But Mary was seated at the feet of Jesus listening to His Word.
c. Jesus spoke to multitudes of people, but few really heard what He was saying.
4. Mary, by faith, believed that He would 'give His life a ransom for many' and she came to anoint Him.
5. Service without faith is little more than just busywork: 'Without faith it is impossible to please Him'.
D. It was a work in season.
1. Jesus said, "Me ye have not always" v7b
2. Mary took advantage of the opportunity that was present.
3. Notice that the disciples, along with the rest of the guests, were unaware that time was so short.
4. All of us have the tendency to put things off, even when we know we ought to be serving Christ now more than ever before.
5. Only one life and soon 'twill be past, only what's done for Christ will last
6. We have the opportunity right now to serve our Savior, but nowhere do we find a guarantee of tomorrow.
7. Her work was in season--"The harvest is great but the laborers are few."
II. Consider the Criticism.
A. Judas was the criticizer. cf. Jn. 12:4
1. His criticism was born out of his own greed.
2. He never cared about the poor; he only cared about himself. He was definitely a self-server.
3. To him it was simply a waste ... but we must remember that Judas was lost and therefore blinded by Satan.
4. To the lost, anything done for the Lord is a waste.
B. Judas was not alone in his criticism.
1. Mt. 26:8, "But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation."
2. Criticism comes quickly to the lips of some of the brethren also.
3. Their near-sightedness is revealed; they could not, or would not, see beyond the present.
4. All they saw was the monetary value of the gift; they failed to recognize that Jesus Christ is worthy of all worship and praise.
5. As Christians, it is impossible to give too much or serve the Lord too much.
6. The ones who are the first to criticize are the ones who are the last to serve Him.
7. They criticize the most who do the least.
8. They had been eating and fellowshipping together (self-service)
III. Consider the Commendation. 14:6-8
A. Jesus accepted the offering.
1. 'she hath wrought a good work on me'
2. what is done for Him is then acceptable to Him.
3. NOTE: Mt. 7:22-23
a. Many will say they serve Christ when in reality they serve themselves.
b. That kind of service is unacceptable.
c. It will not be acknowledged by Christ; 'I never knew you'.
4. Jesus' voice was the only one in defense of what Mary had done.
B. Jesus justified the servant.
1. Jesus said, "Let her alone."
2. 'If God be for us, who can be against us?'
3. We do not need to argue or try to defend what we do for our Lord and Savior.
4. He alone is our defense in the time of trouble.
C. Jesus rewards the service.
1. 'A memorial of her'
2. Because hers is the kind of service that is pleasing to God.
3. She has been an example to all those who would serve Christ.
4. She received the greatest commendation possible from our Lord; 'She hath done what she could'
As we approach the time of our Missions Conference, I want all of us to consider the gift. Have we done what we could for Him? or have we only done what we would? Are we full-service Christians or do we serve our own selfish wants and desires? The choice is ours, but the time is short. What we do for Christ we must do quickly.