A Costly Gift

“The Anointing at Bethany” by Daniel F. Gerhertz

I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing. – 2 Samuel 24:24 (NIV)

Years ago a guest speaker in church asked us to raise our hands if we believed we were fully surrendered to God. I raised my hand.

At the time, I thought I was fully surrendered. But over time, God showed me how I was holding back.

What does “full surrender” look like? I wondered.

Then I read the story of the woman who poured the entire contents of a costly jar of expensive perfume on Jesus. The practical ones grumbled. “What a waste!” they said. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

The apostle John tells us that Judas Iscariot was the one who objected. “He didn’t say this because he cared for the poor,” John wrote, “but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:6 NIV).

“Leave her alone,” Jesus said. “She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”

This woman, described by Luke as a “woman who had lived a sinful life in that town,” demonstrated better what full surrender looks like than the disciples and the “good” folks of the time—in more ways than one.

First, her motive was pure. An outcast, she was looked down upon by the so-called righteous citizens who were indignant that this pariah would crash their party. But she’d been forgiven and given a new life, a clean slate, and she wanted to show her deep gratitude. How grateful am I that the doors of heaven have flung open wide for me, thanks to the sacrifice Jesus made on Calvary? How do I show my gratitude for what God does for me every single day? Full surrender shows gratitude.

Second, she gave the best she had. Most alabaster in those days was actually marble, and we know marble, even today, is costly. The perfume, nard, was worth a year’s wages—around $33,000 by today’s standards. Wow. Have I ever given God my best? Full surrender gives the best.

Third, she poured it all out. Nothing kept in reserve—just in case. When have I given God my all? Full surrender doesn’t hold back—it gives all.

Fourth, she ignored the criticism and obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit. How often do I let what others might say or think of me determine what I do? How obedient am I to the Holy Spirit’s promptings? Full surrender obeys.

Fifth, she recognized the opportunity to do what she could before the window closed. Too often I say mañana—not now. Tomorrow. Next week. Next payday. When I have time, money, whatever. And I lose the opportunity to do good. Full surrender doesn’t put off or look for excuses—it acts promptly, whether or not the command makes sense.

Who am I most like—the weeping, grateful woman? The smug, prideful onlookers who thought they were better than her? Or, worse, am I like Judas, hiding behind greed and selfishness?

Another account comes to mind: David—the shepherd, psalmist, king, man after God’s own heart—went to purchase some property so he could built an altar to God (2 Samuel 24:18–24). The owner offered to give it to him. David refused. “I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” Have I ever truly sacrificed to give? Full surrender sacrifices.

Full surrender. I’m not there yet, but, with God’s help, I’m still working on it.

Father, keep drawing me closer to full surrender to You. Remove the fear of losing control—the fear of losing what I love and cling to. Plant the desire, the willingness, and the trust I need to let You truly be God and Lord. Amen.

Read and reflect on Matthew 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9; Luke 7:36–38John 12:1–8.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

The Hem of His Garment

“The Hem of His Garment,” © 2004 by MessianicArt.com

If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well. Mark 5:28 (NKJV)

For 12 long years she suffered. She tried every recourse available, but to no avail. “She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet of instead of getting better, she grew worse” (Mark 5:26).

I wonder—Was she beyond desperation, past the point of caring? Had she surrendered to her illness, counting the days until it would finally siphon her last ounce of energy, her last breath? Only then would she have relief.

But then she heard something that stirred up a hope she thought long dead: Jesus of Nazareth was passing through—the man whose reputation as a miracle worker was spreading through the country like a wildfire through the withered wasteland: how He’d healed the leper and the man with the withered hand, how he’d driven thousands of demons from the crazy man that lived in Gadarene tombs. Why, word had it that He even calmed a storm at sea with only a few words! Surely He could help her.

She knew she wasn’t allowed in public in her condition, but maybe, just maybe . . . She wrapped her mantle around her face and stepped out the door.

When she saw the crowds swarming around Him, she despaired. She didn’t have a chance. But something in her emboldened her to push through the throng. She was almost to Him when she heard Jairus’s voice: “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so she will be healed and live.”

She knew the little girl—she was only 12. And here she was, way past her prime. Better to let Him go to the girl and not take the time to bother with an old woman. Besides, Jairus was one of the higher ups in the local synagogue, and who was she? A nobody. She turned to leave, but the swarming crowd pushed her closer to Jesus—close enough to touch Him. Hope flared.

“If just touch His clothes . . .”

She reached out. Her fingertips brushed the hem of His garment. Suddenly she felt whole. Healthy. Strong. Healed.

Jesus stopped abruptly and looked around. “Who touched Me?”

In the midst of a jostling crowd, He knew. Terror seized her. Would He be angry? Would her illness return?

Trembling, she fell at His feet and confessed. Love, not condemnation, poured from His eyes.

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Later she heard that He’d brought Jairus’s daughter back from the dead.

Sometimes I wish that Jesus still walked this earth so I, too, can reach out and touch the hem of His garment.

And then I remember—He does: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20)—and I can: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).

In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.   (Ps. 5:3). Amen.

Feeling God doesn’t care about you? Read Psalm 139.

Read and reflect on Mark 5:25-34.

(c) 2011 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.