“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.” (Mk. 14:6-7, NIV)
Being concerned for the poor is a good thing, obviously! God commands it, and Jesus’ life models it. Nevertheless, Jesus reminds us not to lose sight of the big picture. An unnamed woman had just entered the room with an outrageously expensive bottle of perfume. Boldly, shockingly, scandalously, she broke open the container and poured the contents on Jesus’ head. The onlookers were indignant. “What a waste!” they said. “You could have sold that perfume for a year’s wages and given the money to the poor!” And they rebuked her harshly.
But Jesus saw it differently. This woman recognized who Jesus was and what He was about to do. In an intimate act of worship, she acknowledged Him and gave her most valuable treasure to Him in an act of lavish adoration. Jesus received her love and praised her for seeing what the others couldn’t see.
This story raises an important question: Are there ever times when God might want you to say no to the good so you can say yes to the best? Is your spiritual life ever out of balance? For example, do you ever get so busy serving people that you don’t have time to worship God? Or does your passion for studying God’s Word ever take priority over your pursuit of heart change and spiritual transformation?
Serving the poor, worshiping, studying the Scriptures, developing spiritual gifts, becoming more like Jesus—these are all important parts of following God. But one is not more important than another. Ask God to show you where your sense of timing or balance may be off in your expression of any of these, then invite Him to help you grow in the areas that are neglected or weak. Then take it a step further: If you have criticized others (aloud or even in your thoughts) for not being more like you in the way you follow God, ask God’s forgiveness, and if appropriate, theirs as well.