By Dave Duris


With all that God has blessed us with in all categories of our lives, we would certainly fall short in any effort to repay or give back enough in response to what he has so graciously given us. During his earthly ministry, Jesus Christ gave his life in service to others as he ministered to countless numbers of people. During this time the scriptures record two different accounts of women whose acts of giving prompted uniquely significant responses from Jesus Christ. From these records we can learn some penetrating truth concerning the heart of giving.

Matthew 26:6-13:
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

This same account is covered in the Gospel of Mark 14: 3-9, and it indicates that the very precious ointment might have been sold for more than 300 pence. Some scholars indicate that a single pence was worth a day’s wages in those times. No wonder the disciples felt that this extravagant expression was wasteful! However, the Lord saw her action entirely differently when he said she wrought a good work upon him and this act would be told for a memorial of her wherever this gospel would be preached in the whole world. I know of no action on the part of the disciples which received this type of recognition from Jesus Christ. It is interesting to note that she did not ask for opinions or permission to perform this most glorious act. In fact, when you consider that this precious ointment was in an alabaster box which was broken and poured out on Jesus Christ’s head, you see that this act was not partial, it was all or nothing. This act was extreme and it evoked completely different responses by Jesus Christ and the disciples.

In contrast to this generous expression of giving and love, the scriptures immediately follow this account with the darkest act of betrayal for a minimal price.

Matthew 26:14-16:
Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

Judas received 30 pieces of silver for delivering Jesus Christ to the chief priests. This amount was the lowest price for the worth of a slave, because in Exodus 21:32, this was the fine to be paid when a man’s ox gored another man’s servant in order to recompense the injury to the servant.

Considering these accounts, we can see that our good works for the sake of the Kingdom of God may not be understood or acknowledged by others. The world will always offer a reason to put limitations on our giving or offer a better cause for our efforts. The portion the woman gave and the amount Judas received were indicators of how much each valued the life of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

In the Gospel of Mark, there is another account of extravagant giving:

Mark 12:41–44:
And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

To the natural eye, one would not understand the mathematical system Jesus Christ was utilizing when he compared the money cast into the treasury by all the people and the poor widow’s two mites which was worth a portion of a cent. What Jesus Christ saw was the source of the money. All those who cast money cast into the treasury prior to the widow’s two mites gave from their abundance; they had money to spare. In contrast, the poor widow’s giving was truly sacrificial because it was all she had to live on. Jesus Christ’s estimation of all these events show that those two mites were worth more in God’s economy than all the gifts of the others, which lacked the element of sacrifice.

In the book of Acts, chapters 4 and 5, there is another account of extravagant giving, not by an individual only, but rather, an entire church. The believers in the first century church who were possessors of lands or houses sold them and brought the prices of the things that were sold and laid them at the apostles’ feet. However, a couple named Ananias and Sapphira conspired to be partial in their giving and keep back a portion of the price of the land they sold, saying they gave all. The judgment that followed was swift and severe, and a line of separation was established between those whose intentions were pure, from those that were not. It is interesting that the first recorded confrontation and judgment in the first century church involved a heart issue concerning giving. The miracles that followed this event and the multitudes that were added to the church at that time were of dramatic proportions. These blessings which were an indicator of God’s acceptance were extended to those precious believers who had great love and purity of heart.

In conclusion, the quality of giving demonstrated by the early church and the women highlighted in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark was extravagant. The heart of giving in these records truly emphasize the truth that Jesus Christ spoke as recorded in Acts 20:35, that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Let us seek opportunities to give our utmost for to the one who gave his life for us.



From the December 2005 issue of The Vine & Branches