By Jennifer Slattery, Crosswalk.com
My pride can get in the way of my love—to others and to Christ. Though I long to be one who continually gives of herself, without expecting anything in return or caring how I’m perceived, too often my insecurities overshadow my obedience.
I lead my church’s single moms group, and like most ministries, we have a budget we must adhere to. I want to stretch every dime, which means seeking out bargains, making use of what we have, and when necessary, returning the surplus.
I don’t know why or where this arose, but I have a strange anxiety when it comes to returns. Standing in that line with my receipt in one hand, my bag of unused items in the other, I feel nervous and judged. I worry that the cashier will think I stole the items or that I’m being petty in bringing them back, especially when my bags of unused product contain things like $2 bags of flour. I suspect my jumbled emotions come, in part, from a time when, decades ago, I had shoplifted, and sometimes I can still wear that false identity.
Granted, I often receive a few raised brows and some huffs and eyerolls from the clerk. I’m sure they’ve encountered countless shoppers like me—some who really have hot-fingered the items and others who fight with them over every penny. So I get it. This past Monday, standing in a long, slowly moving return line, I understand the tension, but I also understood my why. I knew I could later use every dollar I spared to bless, in some way, the women I served.
Considering this, perhaps I should’ve stood taller. After all, serving others, however we do so, is a noble, eternally-glorious act. But I didn’t. Instead, I wanted to shrink inside myself. To explain to the others in line and the woman who gave me my refund why I was there and why I brought back so many—five bags worth—of baking supplies.
Though this may seem a silly, perhaps even inconsequential example, in giving voice to unwarranted shame, I robbed myself of a precious, holy moment. Of an opportunity, in some small way—granted, very small way—to experience the joy of humility with my Savior. The One who endured ridicule and emptied Himself completely, for me.
So often, it’s not the big sacrifices that most hinder my love, but those small yet important choices to either protect myself and my image or surrender all I am to reveal God’s grace.
In John chapter twelve, we learn of a woman so overwhelmed with love for her Savior, she entered a room full of men to anoint the soon-to-be crucified king. Scripture tells us: “Mary took about a pint[ of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3, NIV).
She used two very precious things, items that would’ve created a startling picture of love, to all in the room. First, she poured her expensive perfume, which may have been her dowry, upon Christ. Then, she lowered her hair, something dignified women would never do in that culture, and used it, her “glory”, to wipe dirty and smelly feet.
In other words, she brought the best of herself to the lowest possible state in humble praise and adoration. And yes, people scoffed, and I imagine some were speechless. But Christ was pleased.
“Leave her alone,” He told the scoffers. “She’s done this for Me” (paraphrase, John 12:7-8).
When we bring all of ourselves and humbly bow at His feet, whether that means picking up trash after church, returning bags of cheap flour, or tenderly washing the feet of the homeless, God is pleased. And to the scoffers, to those who raise eyebrows, misunderstand, or perhaps question our motives, He says, “Leave her alone. She does this for Me.”
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