“Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:2 (NIV)
When Mary used her hair to rub perfumed oil down between her Savior’s toes, the disciples only whiffed the aroma of waste: “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor” (Matthew 26:9 NIV).
But Jesus suggested such a great sacrifice leads to great influence: “Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Matthew 26:13 NIV).
Perhaps Jesus could smell the sweet fragrance of Mary’s sacrifice because he knew that love finds meaning in sacrifice: “We understand what love is when we realize that Christ gave his life for us. That means we must give our lives for other believers” (1 John 3:16 GWT).
Perhaps, in Mary, Jesus could smell “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” a life “poured out like a drink offering” (Ephesians 5:2; 2 Timothy 4:6 NIV).
The Holy Spirit presses us toward the realm of grace, where we are transformed into seeing opportunities to love where others see wasteful sacrifice. Instead of the odor of waste, we learn to breathe deeply within God’s bouquet of grace, where, like Jesus, we are prepared for burial, ready to be “crucified with Christ,” so that “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Matthew 26:12; Galatians 2:20 NIV).
You may be hitting one of those “I can't do this” moments, but our brother Paul reminds us that God gives us the grace required to become living sacrifices, and he places the Holy Spirit in us to make us holy and pleasing to him.
“Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2 NIV).
Is there a part of your life that requires sacrifice, and you find yourself resenting it? How would things change if you began to see it as “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”? Ask God to help you move from smelling the odor of waste to the bouquet of grace.
Jon Walker’s new book, In Visible Fellowship: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer's Classic Work “Life Together,” is an explanation of why every believer needs to be involved in a small group and why small groups put flesh on the Body of Christ.
Learn More About a Biblical Approach to Your Budget -- Your finances are important to God. Saddleback Resources offers Managing Our Finances God’s Way, a seven-week, video-based study for small groups or individuals that will inspire you to live debt-free and/or manage finances in a way that enables you to respond to God’s calling on your life.
Jon Walker is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals. © 2011 Jon Walker. Used by permission.