There is a story of a child who was slow in learning and did poorly in her first grade in school. However, when she started grade 2, her grades started to improve dramatically. The reason: her new teacher, on the first day of school, would call every student close to her and whisper something nice into their ear. When this particular child came up to the teacher, she apparently whispered into the child’s ear, “I wish I had a child like you”. That beautiful thought had a huge impact on the child & it reflected in her studies from there on!
Proposition: Today, I would like to challenge you to start doing “Beautiful Acts for God”
Our text in Mark 14:1-9 tells the story of a lady who anointed the Lord Jesus in the home of one Simon the leper. In response to what she did, Jesus said ‘She has done a beautiful thing to me’ (Mark 14:6). A similar story is found in Matthew 26, Luke 7 & John 12. Many Bible commentators believe that the stories in Matthew, Mark & John relate to the same incident, while the story in Luke seems to be a different one.
So today, from the text in Mark 14, I would like to share 5 thoughts on ‘Doing Beautiful Acts for God’. They are,
1) Beautiful Acts for God will not count the cost
This lady gave what was probably one of her most prized possessions. The scripture says that she brought an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard (Mark 14:3). Vs. 3 also says that she broke the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head. Vs. 5 says that the value of the perfume was equal to more than a year’s wages! Apparently, nard was a very expensive perfume brought mainly from India. She did not count the cost in what she did and Jesus said, “She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6).
Similarly, if we are to do beautiful things for God, we should not count the cost but go the extra mile to honor His name & to bless others. This may include giving of ourselves, our ministry, our time and our money, without counting the cost. Also, let’s do it for people while they are alive, and not after they are dead and gone. A well known poem has these words,
Bring me all your flowers now,
Whether pink or white or red
I’d rather have one blossom now
Than a truck load when I am dead.
When we do beautiful acts for God, we should not count the cost.
2) Beautiful Acts for God will flow from a heart of humility
The Bible says that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”. This lady showed deep humility in what she did. Firstly, in vs.3 she poured the perfume on Jesus’ head, and according to John 12:3, she poured it on His feet, and wiped His feet with her hair. Apparently, at that time, a woman with loose hair in public, reflected a bad image, but she didn’t seem to mind. Also, only servants normally touched feet, but once again, she was humble enough to do it. As a result, Jesus said, “She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6).
When we do a beautiful act for God with humility, lives can be touched and changed forever.
A Pastor I know was confronted angrily by a man in his office one day. This man made many unfair and untrue accusations against the Pastor and after finishing his angry outburst, asked the Pastor what he had to say. The Pastor got up from his chair, walked to the toilet next door, filled an empty basin with water and came back to the room.
The man was surprised when he saw the basin of water and asked what it was for. The Pastor replied that even though the accusations were not true, that since the person was nevertheless upset with him, he felt the right thing to do, was for him to ask forgiveness. He then offered to wash the man’s feet. What happened then was that the man broke down in tears at this act of humility and opened his heart to the Lord.
3) A Beautiful Act for God can be criticized
Vs 4 & 5 says, that people began to criticize this lady harshly for her beautiful act. In Matthew’s Gospel they are identified as the disciples (Matthew 26:8), while John 12:4 specifically identifies Judas as the main culprit! The money was more important to him than the Lord being honored!
Similarly, when we do beautiful things for God, there may be people around who will try to show that we have ulterior motives in what we do. In many countries, when Christians help those in need, they are accused of trying to convert people unethically. Such critics would rather have such needy people continue to live in their misery & poverty! Let’s continue to do beautiful acts for God and not get discouraged, especially when criticism is thrown at us.
4) A Beautiful Act for God should eventually point people to Christ’s death
Jesus mentioned that the perfume was poured on His body beforehand to prepare for His burial (Mark 14:8). What she did pointed to Christ’s soon coming sacrifice. All she wanted was to bless the Lord.
Every time we do something to point people to the cross and our Lord’s sacrifice, we are doing something beautiful. Every time we do something to bless the name of our Lord, we are doing something beautiful.
At the age of 16, a person I met for the first time, showed me the way to the cross of the Lord Jesus and my life has never been the same again, thanks to His saving grace!
“O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me”
Will you do a beautiful act for God this week by guiding someone to the cross?
5) A Beautiful Act for God will not be forgotten
The Lord said, “wherever the Gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (vs 9).
What a testimony to leave behind!
Sure enough, on the hundreds of occasions this text has been preached from, this lady’s beautiful act has not been forgotten! While I believe that God blesses our acts often, in this lifetime, even if nothing significant happens on this earth, our reward is assured in Heaven, because He will not forget the beautiful things we do to glorify Him. The greatest reward we will receive is when He says, ‘Well done, good & faithful servant”.So, keep on doing ‘beautiful acts for God’.
This lady is remembered for her beautiful act. What will you be remembered for?
The Example of Dorcas:
There’s a challenging story about another lady named Dorcas in Acts 9:36-42. Vs 36 says, Dorcas was ”always doing good and helping the poor”. When she became sick and died, an urgent message was sent to Peter who was nearby, to come at once (vs 38). When Peter arrived, all the widows for whom Dorcas had done beautiful things, surrounded Peter and showed him the robes and clothing that Dorcas had made for them (vs 39).
As they cried and spoke, something stirred within Peter as he reflected on the beautiful acts of Dorcas, and the end result was that God gave him the faith to raise this lady of beautiful acts, from the dead. I guess we could say that her beautiful acts were not forgotten either by the widows or by the Lord!
I once read that when the Missionary John Paton was buried in the area where he selflessly ministered for the Lord, with large numbers of people turning to Christ, these words were apparently engraved on the epitaph on his tombstone: ‘Here lies John Paton. When he arrived there were no Christians, only heathen. When he left, there were no heathen, only Christians’!
That’s what he was remembered for! What will you be remembered for?
in closing, let me challenge you to do at least one ‘beautiful act for God’ every day! It means that
1) You will not count the cost
2) It will flow from a heart of humility
3) You will handle any criticism gracefully
4) It will point people to Jesus’ sacrifice
5) Your acts will not be forgotten by the Master and by others
Let me close with a quote. ‘ When you were born, you were crying, while everyone around you was smiling. Live your life in such a way that when you die, you’re the one who’s smiling, while everyone around you is crying!’
God bless you!
Read a similar devotional titled ‘Handling Unpleasant Assignments In Ministry’ here.