On the other side of Christmas I have been evaluating the memories I made this year. I love to give and give generously when the opportunity presents itself. I've been asking myself why.
I often think of Mary of Bethany, Lazarus' sister, whose example of loving generously is recorded in John 12. In the early verses of this chapter we see how Jesus' friends defied the command in 11:57 that "if anyone knew where He was, he should let them (the chief priests and the Pharisees) know, so that they might arrest Him."
The time is short, the cross is near, and we know that it is at great risk to themselves that Jesus' friends "gave a dinner for Him." At the dinner, Mary's devoted heart seized the occasion to express her overflowing love for Christ. In verse 3, we read, "Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume."
The passage relates that the amount of ointment was extravagant, as a pound is a very large amount of fragrant oil and perfume. In verse 5 we are given the value as three hundred denarii or the equivalent of a year's wages.
In verse 7, the dinner turns even more poignant, as Jesus tenderly reminds everyone, when they are tempted to be critical of Mary's luxurious display, that "the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me."
In this economic turn down, the new normal appears to be: Love cheaply! Ever anxious to understand as much as I can, I looked up the word "cheap" in the dictionary and it means to purchase below the going price or the real value. It is even often a competitive game to see who can get something for the cheapest price.
But I beg to differ. I say to myself, since I don't know what losses are around the corner, I don't want to use my valuable opportunity to send a message that devalues. I have an intense desire to highly value and honor those I love - even luxuriously - to communicate how deeply I care.
So, why am I about creating memories that revolve around generosity? I have spent some time pondering, and here are my reasons:
I want to love OPENLY - meaning, I desire, at appropriate times, to throw off the restraints and express the deep love and devotion of my heart. I want to love FREELY and SPONTANEOUSLY.
I want to love LUXURIOUSLY - meaning, I desire to spare no expense in revealing how much I value the person and want to honor them. The more pure and perfect the gift, the more honor it expresses. I want to love SUMPTUOUSLY and MAGNIFICENTLY.
I want to love INFLUENTIALLY - meaning, I desire to pervade the atmosphere with the fragrance of generosity so that others are blessed and inspired to let their love overflow. I want to love CONSPICUOUSLY and EXPANSIVELY.
Wisdom teaches me to seize opportunities to make memories and fill them with meaning, which I accomplish by loving in the moment and loving luxuriously. Long after the opportunities fade, the memories linger!