Alabaster Box

“And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” – Mark 14:9

By Cheryl Ide

I read The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee this summer. I loved it, especially the last four chapters. Chapter 14 has given me something to meditate on. What have I valued my whole life in my alabaster box? How may I “waste” it on the Lord? Does this mean more than our strengths which we have thought of as gifts or talents?

Quote from the book:

For our final chapter we will take as our starting-point an incident in the Gospels that occurs under the very shadow of the Cross — an incident that, in its details, is at once historic and prophetic. “And while he was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster cruse of ointment of spikenard very costly; and she brake the cruse, and poured it over his head … Jesus said … Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever the gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, that also which this woman hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her” (Mark 14:3,6,9).

That is His own statement. What does He intend that we should understand by it? But remember, we are dealing here with something which the Lord said had to go out with the Gospel, wherever that Gospel should be carried. Why? Because He intends that the preaching of the Gospel should issue in something along the very lines of the action of Mary here, namely, that people should come to Him and waste themselves on Him. This is the result that He is seeking. All the twelve thought is a waste. But if the Lord is worthy, then how can it be a waste? He is worthy to be so served. He is worthy for me to be His prisoner. He is worthy for me just to live for Him. He is worthy! What the world says about this does not matter. The Lord says: `Do not trouble her’. So let us not be troubled. Men may say what they like, but we can stand on this ground, that the Lord said: `It is a good work.

Every true work is not done on the poor; every true work is done to Me’. When once our eyes have been opened to the real worth of our Lord Jesus, nothing is too good for Him.

What, then, is the secret? Clearly it is this, that in approving Mary’s action at Bethany, the Lord Jesus was laying down one thing as a basis of all service: that you pour out all you have, your very self, unto Him; and if that should be all He allows you to do, that is enough. It is not first of all a question of whether `the poor’ have been helped or not.

The first question is: Has the Lord been satisfied?

… but the Lord is not so concerned about our ceaseless occupation in work for Him. That is not His first object. The service of the Lord is not to be measured by tangible results. No, my friends, the Lord’s first concern is with our position at His feet and our anointing of His head. Whatever we have as an `alabaster box’: the most precious thing, the thing dearest in the world to us — yes, let me say it, the outflow from us of a life that is produced by the very Cross itself — we give that all up to the Lord. To some, even of those who should understand, it seems a waste; but that is what He seeks above all. Often enough the giving to Him will be in tireless service, but He reserves to Himself the right to suspend the service for a time in order to discover to us whether it is that or Himself that holds us.