by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery
My pride can get in the way of my love—for others and for Christ. Though I long to be one who continually gives of herself without expecting anything in return, or who cares little about how I’m perceived, too often my insecurities overshadow my obedience.
I lead my church’s single moms’ group, and like most ministries, we have a budget to which we must adhere. Stretching every dime means seeking out bargains, making use of what we have, and when necessary, returning the surplus.
This is an issue for me, because I have a strange anxiety when it comes to returns. Standing in that line with my receipt in one hand, my bag of unused items in the other, I feel nervous and judged. I worry that the cashier will think I stole the items or that I’m being petty in bringing them back, especially when my bags of unused product contain things like $2 bags of flour. I suspect my jumbled emotions come, in part, from a time when, decades ago, I had shoplifted, and sometimes I can still wear that false identity.
Granted, I do receive a few raised brows and some huffs and eyerolls from the clerk. I’m sure they’ve encountered countless shoppers like me—some who really have hot-fingered the items and others who fight with them over every penny. So I get it. This past Monday, standing in a long, slowly moving return line, I remembered my why. I knew I could later use every dollar I spared to bless, in some way, the women I served.
Considering this, perhaps I should’ve stood taller. After all, serving others, however we do so, is a noble, eternally-glorious act. But I didn’t. Instead, I wanted to shrink inside myself. To explain to the others in line and the woman who gave me my refund why I was there and why I brought back so many—five bags worth—baking supplies.
And in that moment of unwarranted shame, I robbed myself of a precious, holy moment. Of an opportunity, in some small way—granted, very small way—to experience the joy of humility with my Savior. The One who endured ridicule and emptied Himself completely, for me.
So often, it’s not the big sacrifices that most hinder my love, but those small yet important choices to either protect myself and my image rather than surrender all I am to reveal God’s grace.
In John chapter twelve, we learn of a woman so overwhelmed with love for her Savior, she entered a room full of men to anoint the soon-to-be crucified king. Scripture tells us: “Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3, NIV).
She used two very precious things, items that would’ve created a startling picture of love, to all in that room. First, she poured her expensive perfume, which may have been her dowry, upon Christ. Then, she lowered her hair, something dignified women would never do in that culture, and used it, her “glory”, to wipe dirty, smelly feet.
In other words, she brought the best of herself to the lowest possible state in humble praise and adoration. And yes, people scoffed, and I imagine some were even speechless. But Christ was pleased.
“Leave her alone,” He told the scoffers. “She’s done this for Me” (my paraphrase, John 12:7-8).
When we bring all of ourselves and humbly bow at His feet, whether that means picking up trash after church, returning bags of cheap flour, or tenderly washing the feet of the homeless, God is pleased. And to the scoffers, to those who raise eyebrows, misunderstand, or perhaps question our motives, He says, “Leave her alone. She does this for Me.”
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17 NASB
About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Hometown Healing and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.
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Join the conversation: What anxiety do you have that can get in the way of your love for Christ?