There are a few people in my life to whom I will always have a debt of gratitude. They have impacted me in such a way that I will always be ready to do whatever I can for them. Whether it was a mentoring role, or they came along and helped me out at a crucial moment, they made a difference. I’ll never not feel indebted to their influence and generosity. So I really don’t need a reason to be generous toward them, whether in time, talents, or resources. I always feel generous toward them. I give to them, just because.
Shortly after Jesus raised Lazarus, Mary and Martha helped host a dinner (at Simon the Leper’s home – See Matthew 26:6 and Mark 14:3) for Jesus and his disciples. Read John 12:1-8. Something special happens at this meal. Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with an expensive perfume and wipes his feet with her hair. This will be short, but it will be potent. Why did she do this? Her and Martha were already showing their gratitude by helping hosting a dinner for Jesus. There were no refrigerators or freezers. There were no canned goods. This dinner took some serious preparation and planning in order to feed thirteen grown men, plus their family. The dinner itself was an act of love and gratitude.
Many of us might think such a dinner would have been gracious and plentiful as an act of love. In fact, some of us might even say, after all that work, I can’t (or won’t) give anymore. But Mary is overflowing with gratitude and love. And just because, she breaks out this expensive perfume – which consequently she had saved for Jesus’ burial (she actually believed him when he said he was going to die) – and poured it out as an offering to bless Jesus while he was still with them. Not only had Jesus just raised her brother, Lazarus, for which she was grateful, but Mary knew who Jesus is. Her generosity, gratitude, love, and joy for Christ erupted in a just because offering.
The immature, the self-righteous, and the wolves in your life won’t understand your just because gift. Not to be bested, they may attempt to elevate themselves by minimizing your gift, or even shunning your gift as wasteful, too extravagant, poor stewardship, or whatever. Judas Iscariot positioned himself for sounding so spiritual, so concerned for the poor and social justice. He did his best to minimize the gift and to elevate himself in the eyes of those present. However, Jesus sees through the positioning and manipulation of Judas’ complaint. John doesn’t record it, but in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, Jesus one-ups Judas and declares that her act of worship would be told wherever the gospel is preached!
Don’t let nay sayers discourage you in your worship! Jesus adores the just because gifts from his children. The no strings attached, no expectations of return, just because gifts delight the heart of God. I’m not advocating foolishness. Don’t hamstring yourself financially out of zeal. But I am advocating glad, joy-filled, gratitude-saturated gifts to God, not for what he’s done, but just because of who he is.