To sports fans, MVP means Most Valuable Player. Football’s Peyton Manning holds the NFL record with five MVP awards. Basketball’s Bill Russell and Michael Jordan each won five MVPs, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the award six times. Baseball’s Barry Bonds won seven MVPs, but the legendary Babe Ruth won it only once—in 1923, when he hit .393 with 41 homers and 130 runs batted in. (In the 1920s, professional baseball players were allowed to win the MVP title only once.) Hockey great Wayne Gretzky holds the record for the most MVPs. He won the NHL’s Hart Trophy nine times in the 10-year span from 1980 through 1989.
With a little twist, what if those letters stood for Most Valuable Possession? What do you consider your MVP? Is it your car? Your house? Your bank account or retirement savings? Is it an heirloom, like a cherished piece of furniture passed down by a relative?
Worship . . . or Waste?
Would you give your Most Valuable Possession to the Lord? That’s what Mary did for Jesus. She “came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard” (Mark 14:3). That perfume wasn’t Chanel No. 5; it was more like Chanel No. 20—the really good stuff. Nard comes from plants in the Himalayas, so this rare perfume had been imported all the way from India. Even the packaging was pricey. Alabaster looks like onyx or marble, but it’s soft enough to be carved into a jar or vase.
In those days, a generous host might sprinkle a drop or two of perfume on an honored guest. But Mary broke the whole jar and emptied the perfume onto Jesus’ head, wiping his feet with her hair and filling the house with the fragrance (John 12:3). It was the gift of a lifetime, worth about a year’s wages—an extravagant outpouring of love.
Not surprisingly, some bystanders considered Mary’s act wasteful. Whenever you go all out for the Lord, you will be misunderstood and criticized. A high school guidance counselor warned me not to waste my time by going to Bible college, but I’m glad I ignored his advice. Professor Lewis Foster earned graduate degrees from Harvard and Yale, but no one who studied under him would say he wasted his career by teaching in a Christian seminary.
Do you know what is truly a waste? Hanging onto a bottle of perfume when you have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something incredible for Jesus! It’s a waste to withhold your talent instead of using it for the Lord, squandering your Father’s inheritance instead of investing it in his kingdom.
A Beautiful Thing
Jesus didn’t criticize Mary. He defended her. “She has done a beautiful thing to me,” he said (Mark 14:6). “To me.” That’s what made her generosity beautiful. To honor Jesus, Mary poured out her MVP—her Most Valuable Possession. “She did what she could,” Jesus said (v. 8). God doesn’t demand what we cannot do, but he takes whatever we offer him in faith and multiplies it a hundredfold.
Sometimes love makes us do things that appear extravagant and unconventional—so lavish that others might consider them reckless. But since Christ “poured out his life unto death” for our sake (Isaiah 53:12), doesn’t it make sense to give him our best?
Personal Challenge: Do something extravagant to honor the Lord. Give away something you value or make an extravagant, sacrificial, larger-than-usual donation to a ministry or mission.