Some things are simply spent when you use them. Other things you can re-use. We would probably be wise to pay attention to the difference between the two.
Some things, when they are spent, are simply translated into other things, other resources, or other economies.
A couple of weeks ago, we took our huge family to Kansas City to see a play. In one sense, there was a lot of money spent that will not come back to us. But, in a much greater sense, those funds were translated into memories and priceless time together. Every dime was invested in relationships.
I have found myself on many occasions thinking about the example of Paul the Apostle as he wrote to the Corinthian believers, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” (2 Cor. 12.15)
I have known people that modeled that sentiment, who continually spend their resources and their very lives pouring into, caring for, and looking after others. And, though I have tried to follow suit, I am still wrestling to overcome my own self-centeredness.
It points me back to the account I read of in Mark 14 and Matthew 26 of Jesus being anointed with a very precious ointment as he sat in the home of Simon in Bethany. This woman, unidentified in these texts, came and began to minister to Jesus in a very personal and intimate way.
The woman brought a very expensive flask of ointment that would have cost close to a year’s wages for an average worker. Mark’s account says that she broke the flask of ointment and poured it upon Jesus’ head. Jesus said that she was preparing him for his burial that would take place much sooner than anyone there could imagine. The response of the disciples was that it was surely a waste of resources.
Jesus said she would be remembered by this act of worship. And indeed even now we remember how this woman freely spent such a precious resource upon Jesus.
In just a couple of days after this took place, Jesus himself would have his body broken and his blood spilled out for us. He had spent his life serving, caring, healing, restoring…and now he would be fully spent for us.
So…what does that mean for us?
I think we put too much energy, effort, and attention into preserving our lives, holding on to our resources, and guarding our own security. The example we have from this woman with the alabaster box of ointment, from the Apostle, and from Jesus himself is a life lived to spend and be spent for others.
Most of us would never consider ourselves hoarders. We would much prefer to be considered wise handlers of resources. But the testimony of this woman that we remember not for her name but for her extravagant service to her King is one of pouring out and not holding back.
So, what is that to us – what is that part of ourselves, that thing we treasure, that area of our lives, or that untouchable matter that we have been holding back from Jesus? Is it time to break open the barrier around it and spend it upon our Savior?