Saving, Giving, and Donor Intent

Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial” John 12:7. 

One of the most beautiful scenes in Scripture occurs during Holy Week when Mary anointed the feet of Jesus. Lazarus was reclining at the table; Martha was serving when Mary took about a pint of expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus’ head and feet and wiped his feet with her hair. Immediately, the whole house was filled with its fragrance. Judas Iscariot was indignant and judged her generosity, “Why this waste of perfume?” Jesus defended her extravagance and proclaimed that she was preparing his body for burial. 

We can glean at least three applications from this passage. 

Saving. The perfume was valued at a year’s wages. Probably, Lazarus, Mary, and Martha had all been saving for a special occasion. Thrifty people are generous; they are just selective about when and what they support. A man gave an indication for a $500,000 gift for a capital campaign who had previously given only $25 a month. When asked what prompted his generous gift, he replied, “You didn’t need it until now.”  

Giving. Mary gave her elaborate gift to a friend who had walked with her for years. She sat at Jesus’ feet attentively soaking in the Word of God. Then Mary witnessed the miraculous resurrection of her brother. Receiving Lazarus back from the dead was worth far more than a year’s wages. Have you walked with your major donors through the joys and sorrows of life? Has your ministry changed them for eternity? Donors give to the degree that your ministry has directly touched their heart. 

Donor Intent. Some questioned Mary’s generosity claiming her gift could have been used for better purposes. Everyone seems to have an opinion about how others spend, invest, and give their resources. As a ministry, you must ensure that you abide by your donor’s intentions for their gift. Know your donors so well that you can align your needs with their desires. 

Jesus said that Mary’s extravagant gift would be remembered forever. What compelling reason will prompt your donors to be extravagant with your ministry? 

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