07 Apr The Gift That Keeps on Giving
“She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Mark 14:8-9).
The most remembered gift ever given lasted for only a moment. Six days before Passover, Simon the Leper invited Jesus to his home for supper. The guest list included the disciples, his recently resurrected friend Lazarus, along with Martha and Mary. As they reclined around the table, Mary approached Jesus with a bottle of expensive perfume, broke it, and poured it on his head and feet. Her act of worship is a beautiful lesson in generosity. Donors give estate and endowed gifts because they want their legacy to last for generations. We still remember Mary’s extravagant gift and everyone’s reactions to her generosity.
The Disciples Questioned
Sacrificial giving sparks opinions and everyone has one. All the disciples criticized Mary, not just Judas (see Matt. 26:8). They felt her extravagance could have been used in better ways like giving to the poor. Giving is spiritual warfare. Satan hates generosity and will throw flaming arrows (even comments from friends) to discourage donors from giving. Pray for your ministry partners as they consider significant gifts, because others will try to talk them out of it.
Judas voiced his opposition, but he didn’t care about the poor. He was looking out for himself as he held the bag and had embezzled many times (see John 12:6). Sadly, some adult children don’t want their parents or grandparents to be generous because more money for ministry means less for them. Encourage your ministry partners as they navigate difficult family dynamics. Be wise when you sense opposition from family members and encourage your donors to include their own attorney in any gift decisions.
Jesus rebuked his disciples for criticizing Mary’s extravagant gift. “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6). Some donors give because you offer to name something in their honor. Mary wasn’t looking for praise, she gave lavishly because she realized how much God had lavished on her (1 John 3:1). Inspire your donors to give beautiful gifts that will last beyond their lifetimes.
Simon the Leper hosted Jesus in his home. That’s unusual because lepers lost all their possessions and were forced to live outside the city. Jesus healed Simon and restored every aspect of his life. One of the side effects of leprosy is the loss of smell. When Mary broke her perfume flask, the house was filled with its fragrance (John 12:3). Simon could smell and enjoy her generous gift. Help your donors realize all the lives they touch through their generosity.
Think About This: “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial” (John 12:7). Mary saved this special gift for this special occasion. Donors are saving to give a special gift. Why will they give it to you?
Response: Father, help me communicate our ministry story in such a compelling way that our ministry partners will be motivated to give an extravagant gift.
Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored two books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising and Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.