A Woman and Her Alabaster Jar

I’ve heard stories about acts of kindness where people offer free hugs or leave encouraging notes in public. Stormzy, a British Grime artist, recently donated a generous sum of money to a university student’s crowd fund. Imagine not having to worry about paying tuition fees? This act of kindness is on the large scale, but if we zoom in on various communities there are people who constantly give-up their time to help and show love to others. Whether it’s a word of encouragement to a friend or the use of our resources, time and money, we give a piece of ourselves away every time we engage in selflessness. The Bible is full of generous moments; Jesus’ crucifixion is probably the most incredibly selfless sacrifice, and the God of the Bible is forever generous. Today, I want to look at a woman remembered for extravagant giving.

A gospel singer called Cece Winans released a song titled Alabaster Box. This song is about a woman in the Bible, and the account of her story can be found in Mark 14:3-9, Matthew 26:7-13 and Luke 7:36-50. This woman is identified as a sinner who, in the eyes of society, had no right to place herself near Jesus and the disciples. However, she goes out of her way to buy the most expensive oil in an alabaster jar for Jesus. The story doesn’t there: she was so overcome with emotion that she wept on Jesus’ feet and proceeded to wipe ‘them with the hair on her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment’ (Luke). I believe this woman didn’t have a large income for two reasons: gender and status. Yet, she stood in the presence of holiness and didn’t consider her status or the opinions of others. I am inspired by her remarkable courage. The heart of this woman and the depth of her generosity is beautiful. All that mattered to her was Jesus, and she was brave enough to step out in faith with complete vulnerability, knowing that the Lord would never turn her away. Her act of generosity was more than simply ‘giving’; it was sincere worship, and it may have cost plenty of money and the risk of embarrassment; however, she lost nothing and gained everything. Forgiveness is lavished on her, she received love and an eternal treasure worth more than the alabaster jar. In the presence of God, this woman experienced total freedom.

When this story is retold, I doubt that people remember this brilliant lady as a sinner. She was an individual who fully understood the identity of Jesus. This woman understood that giving time, money or even emotions to God is an act of worship. The state of her position in society demonstrates that life may be difficult at times, but we can always find an opportunity to give of ourselves to God and others. God doesn’t look at our material status and, in fact, He doesn’t need everything of that sort. She came to God, a weeping, mess and worshiped him. God wants the same from us, an open heart with an attitude of thanksgiving. What matters is the condition of your heart, and when you decide to immerse yourself in the presence of God every day, it’s hard not to kneel in awe at His extravagant generosity and in turn pour it out to others.

God, stir our hearts with generosity. Show us where there is a need. Equip us and help us to step out in faith. I pray that this story encourages us to worship you with thanksgiving and praise. Amen.

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