Without remorse, she scooped the last of the cosmetics into the waste urn. The rose petal rouge, the lead-sulfide eye shadow, and the chalk face whitener would no longer be needed. Yesterday, these products seemed essential for an aging woman of her position. Today, they settled without value upon the layers of scented fabrics that she had culled earlier.
“Good riddance,” she whispered aloud as she topped the rubbish pot with its lid.
As she turned to her bolted doorway, she knew that clearing the shelf of make-up would be the easiest step of her new lifestyle. Out on the street, life would be a different story.
Outside, she was expected to be on call from dusk to daylight.
Outside, she was expected to be coy and alluring.
Outside, she was expected to wear her distinctive harlot’s veil.
Yes outside, the world expected her to be the same. Yet, she knew that the past twenty-four hours had changed everything within her.
Yesterday morning, in a moment of spontaneity, she’d decided to follow a crowd onto the hillside. Yesterday afternoon, in a moment of clarity, she’d decided to follow a Man Who would change her life.
He wasn’t just any man. After all, she knew men. She’d known far too many of them. And they had known her. Yet, none had pierced her as this One Man had.
He had spoken of feeding the hungry with satisfaction; of comforting the grieving with laughter; of rewarding the insulted with heaven. Of treating others just the way you wanted them to treat you. No one had ever cared about how she’d been treated.
Sure, she’d heard speeches before. The scribes’ were lengthy and the Pharisees’ pompous. Neither had any credence with her, as some of both those classes of men had shared her bed.
But this Man’s words were different. Different to the core. He spoke with His heart, not His hips. He spoke the way He lived and lived the way He spoke. He cared more about relationships, than reputation; humility more than desirability; faith more than flesh.
He’d mesmerized her with His words. And as the sun began to set and the crowd gradually dispersed, she’d remained – muddled, mystified, and magnetically drawn to Him. Down the hillside, a client was probably in search for her services. Upon the hillside, this Man had definitely searched for her soul. And with His gaze, as her eyes met His, she knew she would never be the same.
Could that have been just yesterday?
As her eyes adjusted to the lengthening shadows of her dusky room, she glanced again to the shelf she’d just cleared. Bare now, except for that one vial. That one precious bottle.
Even from her place across the room, she could smell the essence of it’s ingredients. Myrrh, frankincense, cardamom, cinnamon. Her changed heart had not changed the value of that vial.
Delicate and expensive, both the vial and it’s contents set her apart – made her the envy of all her peers. She may have aged, but hers was the only couch on the street that could boast such lavish extravagance.
The alabaster bottle was a masterpiece itself. Hand-carved from the finest Egyptian calcite, it replicated the vases on the shelves of palaces, or so she had been told.
She used the perfume within sparingly, but even a drop was potent enough for an entire evening. It was true essence, not the imitation stuff being sold at the spice market in town.
As she neared the shelf hesitantly, light from the window filtered through the translucent alabaster, giving the tiny bottle it’s own inner glow. It was truly the only thing of value in her whole existence, she mused.
“Until yesterday,” she smiled.
She bit her lip and pondered what she should do with it now. After all, she’d seen Truth face to face and no longer wanted to live a lie. “The Kingdom is within you,” He’d told her, but now rectifying a spiritual transformation with a sensual treasure wasn’t that easy.
In some ways, the alabaster vial remained precious to her, yet she knew she could no longer spend it as she had before. How could her actions today reflect her repentance of yesterday?
Then, as if His voice spoke anew within her, she lifted the vial carefully from it’s place on the shelf, slipped it within her pocket and walked out onto the street with the moisture of resolve in her eyes.
“And behold, there was a woman in the city who was an immoral woman; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet, and anointed them with the perfume” (Luke 7:37-38).
What is your alabaster treasure that you still cling to? Who are you using it for today?
Let me introduce you to the Guilt Grub.
Ravenous and relentless, the Guilt Grub chews on you whenever you think you have done something wrong, draining you of life-sap and energy.
The amazing thing about the Guilt Grub is that he not only gnaws on you while you judge yourself; he can also eat at you because of what someone else has said about you.
As he feeds, the Guilt Grub leaves behind secretions of insecurity, indecisiveness and shame. We hate the Guilt Grub, but for some reason, many of us continue to allow him to eat on us day after day. It’s almost as if we think guilt is good for us.
However, anything that sucks away life is not from the Life-Giver.
Let’s dig deeper.
The English word “guilt” is used 95 times in 87 verses of the New American Standard Bible. Whether originally in Hebrew or Greek, the meaning always refers to the fault of a particular person committing a crime. “Guilty”, used 44 times in the same version, also points to the offense.
The difficulty is that neither of these words help us with the feeling that guilt has now come to mean. Both of these definitions deal with a legal point, not the gut-wrenching emotion of how we feel about it.
So what causes the Guilt Grub to emerge within us?
Many Christians believe this is an hatchling of the Holy Spirit.
But, there is nowhere in the Word of God that lays this egg. It’s just not true.
The Holy Spirit has two roles regarding sin:
In God’s dealing with unbelievers, He simply brings them to Light by disclosing the secrets of their heart (1 Corinthians 14:25). He already knows what is in the dark and works to uncover it (Daniel 2:22). Even, the Son wasn’t sent into the world to nit-pick, but to free (John 3:17).
On the other hand, accusation is the full-time job of God’s adversary, the devil. Every scheme of satan is aimed at stealth, murder and destruction and he accomplishes this by pouring on the guilt day and night (John 10:10; Revelation 12:10). So much the fact that the rabbis actually made up a new Greek word “kategor”, to be one of satan’s names. Simply translated, “kategor’ means “the accuser”.
As we think about it, it’s pretty absurd to think that our Father and kategor would have the same job, don’t you think? “If satan is divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand” (Luke 11:18)?
No, when you feel the bite of the Guilt Grub, you can be assured of his source. He’s always hatched from the spiritual egg sac of darkness.
So, tell me…gonna let him take another bite on you today?