Reckless Generosity (Matthew 26:6-13)

Matthew 26:6-13, “And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. 8 But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” 10 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. 11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. 12 For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. 13 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” (NKJV).

There are two ways we can look at our giving. Both are depicted in this account which occurs just prior to the betrayal of Jesus (Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-10; John 12:1-8). We can look at our sacrificial giving from merely a cost perspective and view it as foolishly wasteful. This was the viewpoint of the disciples: “Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much...” Specifically, Judas mentions this oil may have been valued at “300 denarii”—300 day’s wages (John 12:5). So, why should it be spent on Jesus when it could be spent other ways? Of course, John’s gospel also notes the claim of Judas was just all smoke and mirrors. John writes, “This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it” (John 12:6). Even so, Judas and the disciples saw Mary’s generosity as reckless and foolish spending, better used on other efforts, possibly even for their own benefit.

Contrariwise, we may also view our sacrificial giving as “a good work.” This is how Mary, “the woman” identified in the gospel of John, views her own deed. This is why she is willing to break open the “alabaster flask” and use the costly contents upon the head of Jesus. Yet, more importantly, this is how Jesus considers her actions. Jesus says, “...she has done a good work for Me” (Matthew 26:10). From the vantage point of Jesus, this sacrifice was not to be rebuked, but to be commended. After all, there are times when the bonds of love supersede the limitations of our budget. In some rare moments the mind needs to be set aside and the good-natured impulses of the heart must be allowed to burst forth.

What are your thoughts as you consider opportunities to show generosity? Now, keep in mind, this woman did not give what she did not have. This is not what the text is demanding. She does not rack up her gift on a credit card to be paid later. This is never what the Scriptures demand of us as we give (see 2 Corinthians 8:12). On the other hand, she was willing to give all that she had for the cause was greater than the cost. She saw the unique moment as greater than the unfavorable money math. As you give, which mindset do you tend to have? Is your sacrificial generosity a reckless waste or is it a beautiful work? Sometimes, we must put the calculator away and be willing to give all even if others brand us with reckless generosity.