Blessed… Extravagant Generosity

When Jesus was at Bethany visiting the house of Simon, who had a skin disease,  a woman came to him with a vase made of alabaster containing very expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ head while he was sitting at dinner.  Now when the disciples saw it they were angry and said, “Why this waste?  This perfume could have been sold for a lot of money and given to the poor.” But Jesus knew what they were thinking. He said, “Why do you make trouble for the woman? She’s done a good thing for me.  You always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have me.  By pouring this perfume over my body she’s prepared me to be buried.  I tell you the truth that wherever in the whole world this good news is announced, what she’s done will also be told in memory of her” (Matthew 26:6-13, Common English Bible).

Back in the mid-1980’s, former Ford executive and Chrysler CEO, Lee Iacocca chaired the fundraising effort to restore the Statue of Liberty. He shared with Newsweek magazine some of the stories related to the gifts during the campaign.

Perhaps the most touching gift came from 78 homeless Vietnamese refugees, living in a camp in Thailand. They passed the hat and came up with $114.19. These were people who had lost everything but hope. They were willing to give what little they had for that symbol of liberty.

We could easily call what those refugees did silly. What they had to give wasn’t going to make a great deal of difference in the grand scheme of things. It would take more than $230 million to restore the statue and Ellis Island. How much difference would $114 make?

There is also another way of looking at it. A single gift of $114 may not have made a great deal of difference in the collection, but it made a real difference for the donors. Though a half of the world away and living in circumstances that were difficult at best, they gave what they had to an effort greater than themselves. The key is, they gave what they had.

There is a term for that. “Extravagant Generosity” has become a buzz-term in the Church these days. It is the idea of giving but going further. If I give five dollars to a cause, that is nothing. I can afford five dollars for just about anything. That gift shows I have no real commitment to the cause for which I give. I am just giving.

If I dig deeper and instead of five dollars, I give $500. Digging deeper here could represent generosity. I understand that for some the five dollars would be a real sacrifice. That is why I said, “I can afford five dollars.” The same can be said of some people and $500. Don’t get caught up in the numbers and miss the point.

Now, if I were to really dig deep into my finances, took money out of savings, and scraped together $5000 and gave it, now we have moved beyond the generous to the extravagantly generous. Again, for some $5000 is nothing. For me, it would be a real sacrifice.

We see a good example of extravagant generosity in today’s lesson. This woman had to have saved for an extended period of time to be able to possess this jar of perfume. It was, with little doubt, the most valuable thing she owned. Yet she took the perfume and poured it out on Jesus’ feet. It was a sign of love. It was also a great example of extravagant generosity.

I read a definition recently for the word generous. It said, “an unselfish willingness to give sacrificially in order to make a positive difference for the purpose of Christ.” I have no idea whose quote it is. In my very limited search for an author, I found nothing. Still, I like this quote. “…to give sacrificially in order to make a positive difference for the purpose of Christ.” I can think of nothing better than to follow the example of the woman with the alabaster jar.

How do you generate extravagant generosity to make a positive difference for Christ?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Published by drjkbroyles

I love Mike Ashcraft's book, "My One Word." For the past nine years I have participated and encouraged others to participate to in the "My One Word" Challenge. My first word was discipline was my word the first year. Since then my word has been focus, sight, jungle, peace, concentration, serve, genuine and this year is fit. I seek to be fit for my health, my family, my church, my ministries. I seek to be fit in any are of my life where God might point to me. I also have a nickname, "Dr. B." When I was a public high school teacher, Dr. B. is what most of my students called me, at least in my presence. I am still called that by many people though I no longer teach in public schools. I am the author of "Average Joe: With an Extraordinary Story" (available on Amazon). The book fits into the genre of "Biblical Fiction" or "Christian Fiction" and features some of the Bible's lesser known characters. The name of my blog is, "Fork in the Road." Life is filled with forks in the road. It isn't a matter of if we encounter a fork in the road, but when will we and how many will we experience in a lifetime. I love to strum my guitar. I am not a great guitar player but I enjoy it. I also enjoy writing music. I get excited with I feel a new song emerging. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog, "Bishop" in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 30 years as a United Methodist pastor, serving churches all over east and southeast Texas, from just north of Tyler to south of Houston, from the Gulf Coast to east of Madisonville. I currently serve Perritte Memorial UMC in Nacogdoches. I spent one year in the classroom, teaching High School government, economics, psychology, and sociology. Cindy and I have been married for 43 years. We have two grown sons and six grandchildren, three boys and three girls. I enjoy preaching and all it's aspects from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading. I have dabble in drawing and "painting" with pastels as well as woodworking and woodcarving. My current projects are two ukuleles. I collect, repair and restore guitars too. I play the guitar (badly, but I still do) I also enjoy working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, TX, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. This blog started out as devotional writings. In August of 2020, I made a major change to the blog, switching to a daily theme format. Sunday Sermon-usually my manuscript sermon Miscellaneous Monday-misc. writing, poetry, ministry Tuesday Thoughts-Devotion Wed. with Wesleys-hist. & theol. of early Methodists TED Talk Thursday-Video & appl. in current theology Five for Friday-5 things I've seen & my thoughts Sing-Along Sat. - Usually a new song I have written I write, "Strumming a G-Chord with Dr.B." to get my thoughts onto something permanent. After all, they say, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. Seeking the Genuine, Keith Lufkin, Texas August 2020

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