I was reading through Mark 12 the other day when a phrase caught my attention. The phrase came in the middle of the story of Mary anointing Jesus with perfume in Bethany. She anointed him with nard, a perfume that was valued at what a person made in a year’s time. When she did this, complaining began from the disciples (led by Judas) who thought the perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus rebuked his disciples and praised Mary for her thoughtful gift. In the midst of his praising, he said this, “She did what she could.”
This phrase caught my eye as it is sometimes very easy to complain about what I don’t have to offer or compare myself to what others are doing to have an impact on the world around them. When I think in either of these ways, I don’t always do what I can. I listened to what Jesus said about Mary and came to a couple of conclusions:
Mary brought what she had. She didn’t complain about what she didn’t have or downplay her gift, but simply brought what she had to Jesus.
Mary used what she had. The perfume came in a one-time use bottle and Mary used all of it in gratitude for what Jesus had done for her. It’s tempting to hoard what we have in order to have enough for ourselves, but that’s not the example Mary set.
Mary didn’t let the opinions of other sidetrack her. I’m sure she wasn’t happy with the complaints of the disciples after bringing this generous gift to Jesus. However, she didn’t let those complaints stop her from giving, she poured it all out.
Mary’s story was broadcast. Jesus promised that her story would be told from that point on. It has and will continue to be told.
When I heard the words, “She did what she could”, it was very freeing to me. I am not responsible for doing what I cannot do, but only what I can do. I am not responsible for using what I don’t have, but what I do have, that I must use with all my energy. I have an audience of One and Jesus is the One I must please. While I must continue to stretch and grow, I am not supposed to be who I am not, but instead, must be the best me that I can.
I used this story in a message yesterday and ended with this statement: “Remember this truth: everyone has a gift to bring, no gift is insignificant and every gift is meant to be used.” What would happen if we live with this statement in mind?