She hath wrought a good work upon me.
When the Lord returns and we see him face to face, I trust that we shall pour out our treasures at his feet. But today- what are we doing today?
Several days after Mary had broken the alabaster box and poured the ointment on Jesus’ head, there were some women who went early in the morning to anoint his body. Did they do it? Did they succeed in their purpose on that first day of the week? No, he was gone! There was only one soul who in fact succeeded in anointing the body of the Lord, and it was Mary who anointed him beforehand. All the others were too late, for he had risen. The pressing question, the is: What am I doing for the Lord today?
Procrastination is no doubt one of the best tools the devil has. If he can’t convince us to not take a step toward God or to become more deeply involved in the work of God, he uses the delay tactic. He knows that if he can convince us to delay long enough we will either miss the opportunity or by the time we decide to act he will have something else to offer.
Consider how many of us have said to God, “Wait until I…. grow up, raise the children, retire, become stronger in my faith and on and on.” The common factor is delay. Sadly many of us when we reach that magical point find there’s another reason for pushing up the time line.
As the apostle Paul stood before King Agrippa presenting the Gospel in a powerful and persuasive manner, the king responded with what I think are the saddest and perhaps the most used words: “Almost you persuade me. Let’s talk again at a more convenient time.” We have no record that a “more convenient time” ever came.
Nee points out the interesting fact that although the women no doubt rushed to the tomb that early morning, they arrived too late to anoint the body of Jesus. We may say that it was unnecessary for Christ has risen and that would be true. And we could maybe say that the church continues on and we hear of those who are still coming to Christ and the world doesn’t look like it completely falling apart. We reason that little old us won’t make that much of a difference and all that may be true in the larger scheme of things in the here and now. The biggest losers won’t be those who could have benefited from our actions or involvement, it will be those who passed by an opportunity to bless and honor Christ.
When Mary anointed Jesus, it wasn’t a big thing on the surface. It was a single woman with a small box of ointment but Jesus said that her single act would be told around the world. There were lots of reasons for Mary to have waited for a more convenient time. First of all, she was a woman coming into a room filled with men and she was uninvited. She had to overcome culture. Second, she wasn’t just a woman-at least in one case- she was a woman of ill repute and I’m sure everyone in the room was aware. She had to overcome who she was and the environment. Finally, she was a sinner coming into the presence of the holy God. She could have thought she should wait until she got her act together. But she let none of those reasons create a delay. She made it her priority to perform the act of worship irregardless of the challenges she had to overcome. Anytime we decide to act for God the devil will create stumbling blocks of one sort or another. His strategy is delay and detour. Many are those who intend some day to walk with God but wind up waiting till it’s too late. I have no doubt that the man who was engaged in building bigger barns in the parable Jesus gave, intended to make provision for his soul just as soon as he had accomplished his goals. Like many, he probably assumed that just as soon as he reached his point of success he would then slow down and take care of spiritual business. Not much different in our world today. The numbers of those who are making the things of the world their top priority are on the rise at both ends of the spectrum. Younger families are choosing sports and activities first and only if there are no other events does church become an option. Older people are no different. They have discovered there is a wide array of activities available and they choose to take advantage of them reasoning that it’s important to do so before they get too old to enjoy life. One of the long term effects of Covid is that numbers of church attendees discovered other things they could do instead of attending church services. Their habit/pattern was changed and now church attendance isn’t as important as it once was. I’m not suggesting that all these things should cease or in some way are sins. I’m just pointing out that they can become the tools of spiritual procrastination and often the devil tricks people into thinking they have plenty of time.
As Paul stood before Agrippa that day, he made note of a principle of Scripture: “Now is the day of salvation.” In other words, today may very well be the only day we have left.
On a larger scale, we who are the church have been led down the path of procrastination as well. We intend to share the gospel of Christ to the community some day when we have more volunteers or we can offer more and better programs or as soon as we can afford to hire someone to do the job for us. We intend to grow rather than decline but we’re waiting for that magic moment that hordes of people show up one Sunday morning. As individual believers, we’re waiting until we know enough or learn the methods of witnessing, all the while hoping someone else will do it for us. We might want to truly worship but we’re waiting until someone else dares to break the ice. Oh the power of procrastination!
Scripture tells us that one day we will stand in the presence of Christ. In the gathering of believers, God will wipe the tears from our eyes. There is much speculation concerning those tears. Surely it can’t be because we’re in heaven. Perhaps it might be that some of those we love are missing. I personally believe that tears will be shed as we see the missed opportunities we let pass us by because we delayed.
I wonder in the joy of the resurrection if there was not also some regret by those women who had arrived too late to anoint Christ. I’m thankful that through His love and mercy that God will wipe tears from our eyes and our sorrow and discomfort will only last a moment. But we can mitigate that moment’s sadness by choosing to act at every opportunity without delay. There are those times when God opens up a window of opportunity but those who delay often find themselves facing a closed window.
Today if God is speaking to you and you are being given an opportunity, don’t delay. Seize the moment and choose the things of God first.
Jesus made us an incredible promise:
“But first most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.”
Those who choose the things of God first find that He blesses them with everything else they need. Choose Him now and choose Him first.
Dr. John Thompson