A New Way to Look at Finances
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17
Actually, this last entry of my Easter series should be titled “Waste or Worship?” God took me in a completely unexpected turn on this topic from when I first planned this series. That’s alright though; it’s His prerogative. It’s His blog. I’m just along for the ride.
Yesterday I read Mark 14 and it tells the story of a woman who poured an entire jar of expensive perfume on Jesus out of gratitude for what He had done. He was having dinner at Simon the Leper’s with a bunch of people when she “interrupted.” (I can’t help but wonder – why would people risk gathering at a leper’s home unless Jesus had healed him? Seems like Simon should have been in line with some perfume too!)
Jesus’ disciples were appalled. “Why is she wasting that perfume? That’s worth a year’s wages! She could have sold it and given the money to the poor; now it’s gone. Squandered.”
But Jesus defended her, “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Mark 14:6-9).
It’s the same with everything God gives us. We can either waste it or use it to worship Him. However, others cannot always give a correct judgment of which one we have done. From the perspective of many, this woman’s gift seemed wasteful, but to Jesus, it was a tender and lavish preparation for His burial. How He must have treasured this expression of honor and affection! It wouldn’t be long before He faced betrayal, the sting of death, and separation from His Father.
Jesus’ words to her put a stamp of approval on her actions. How can we tell if the way we use our money and resources is waste or worship? A lot of it depends on our motive; why do we do what we do? In light of the cross and the new life it brings to us, every choice we make is either an expression of love for Him, or a tangent into selfishness.
Some questions we can ask ourselves:
· Do I buy because of need, or because I never feel like I have enough?
· Do I purchase to impress others?
· Am I giving out of love for Jesus, or because it’s what I’m supposed to do?
· Do I buy lavish gifts to buy friendship or approval?
· Am I living beyond my means and not saving so I can give to others in need?
· Am I keeping what I should spend, or spending when I should save for the future?
· What would Jesus say about the way I use the resources He has given me?
So often, we make the Christian life into a complicated list of rules. Jesus boils it down to a very simple equation. Are we pouring ourselves out on what does not last? Or are we pouring ourselves out in worship of Him?
Sugar Cookie Crosses: Everyone seems to love sugar cookies; they’re yummy for any holiday. This recipe has a unique almond flavor, which I love. Use an official cookie cutter, or freehand your own crosses and decorate with abandon!
Sugar Cookies (Betty Crocker Cookbook)
1 ½ c powdered sugar
1 c butter, softened
1 t vanilla
½ t almond extract
2 ½ c flour
1 t baking soda
1 t cream of tartar
Mix powdered sugar, butter, egg, vanilla and almond extract. Add flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Heat oven to 375°. Divide dough in half. Roll out one half at a time on floured surface and cut into crosses.
Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake until edges are brown, 7-8 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.
Makes about 5 dozen.