Christianity 201

June 2, 2013

The Intention Behind The Action

Today we pay a return visit to the blog The Rest That Works and writer Scott Daniels. You’re always encouraged to click through to read at source. This piece appeared under the title The Bottom Line.

The more I pray and try to follow God’s guidance the more it becomes apparent how simple the bottom line really is–love. It’s also apparent what usually gets in the way–a critical spirit, toward myself and others. The issue isn’t whether or not there is something that can be criticized. That is often the case. At issue is our approach. Is it of love or not? 

Probably the clearest story from the Bible that highlights this is when the woman (or different women) anointed Jesus with expensive oil. 

In John, Mary anoints Jesus and Judas objects because of the expense (John 12:1-8).

In Matthew and Mark, Jesus is at the house is of Simon the Leper when a woman comes in with very expensive ointment, and pours it over his head. The disciples in general complain of the waste because it could have been sold for the poor, but Jesus says it’s in preparation for his burial, and that you will always have the poor with you but not me, and adds that“wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” (Mt. 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9). It’s one of the few times we hear that he is really impressed with what someone has done, and it has everything to do with intent.

In Luke 7 we have a different story with interesting similarities: We’re at the house of Simon the Pharisee. 

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38 She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “speak.” 41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” 48 Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

In all cases, which may or may not have been different women and episodes, Jesus emphasizes the way the women have shown great love. To Jesus, the love and intent behind our actions are just about everythingIn at least one of these cases, expressing the love is worth a year’s wages blown in a single impractical gesture.

Jesus doesn’t say that the poor don’t matter. He also doesn’t ignore sin. But he clearly says that love moving or not moving through us matters most. He’s saying the spirit is the key.

The bottom line is to rest regarding a critical spirit and work with love. The bottom line is Divine Love, not as a theory but as a movement within us that deals with sin by transforming people and situations through love (us included).

More power to you in focusing on the bottom line.