My Three Vials

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By Kandy Persall

I hate waste. I’m not sure if it stems from a childhood of pinching pennies or adulthood of recycling in Asia. Anyway, if something seems wasteful, it bothers me.

The caveat is that what I consider waste is someone else’s need. I feel that buying tickets to a sporting event is an extravagance, but my husband swears it to be a necessity. I consider family get-together’s as an investment, but others may feel it wasteful of time and energy. 

What is waste? defines it, “to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return; use to no avail or profit; squander.” Basically, it’s expending more than needed. But who decides the difference between necessity and extravagance? No two individuals seem to agree wholeheartedly.

What was Jesus’ view of waste? His idea differed with His disciples. On one occasion, when a woman anointed Jesus with an entire vial of precious perfume, the disciples were indignant. “Why this waste? Surely this was too much! Using the whole thing on just one person? Think of what we could have done if we had sold and distributed the money (Matthew 26:8).” But Jesus had a different point of view. “Leave her alone,” He said (Mark 14:6). 

God’s principles regarding waste are the same today as they have always been. Although I do not have an alabaster vial of expensive perfume, I do stockpile things that I’m careful not to waste. Maybe its time to reevaluate my viewpoint of waste with the following “vials”:

Me Time — A valued commodity, I like to do what I must and then reward myself with ample free time to do what I want. All of this “me time” can crowd out silence and praise. Could it be that I waste my downtime for unrestful activity? Am I filling my time so completely that I have no space for solitude? I believe the Father is calling me to waste more of my “me time” on “He time.”

Pleasure — God’s Word reveals that my gratification isn’t His main goal for me. Societal Christianity preaches that if I am not in perfect bliss, then something must be wrong with my spiritual walk. But, since I am to be His active ears, mouth, and hands, my life should mirror His ups and downs. “As He is, so are we also in this world” (1 John 4:17). Conflict and affliction should be anticipated rather than astonishing. He clearly has a different viewpoint on this idea of waste.

Energy — This one is a tough one for me. Living with chronic pain, I am cautious about wasting energy on anything that drains me. I rationalize that low energy saps my endurance. Yet am I stubbornly trusting on my own will to press through, rather than relying on Him to carry me? I’m not talking here about working “for Him” so that I can pay off a debt. Jesus has already accomplished that work. He doesn’t need my achievements. But what about my lavish love? I desire to know clearly when to pour energy extravagantly and when to conserve it. 

Mary of Bethany broke her costly perfume without consideration of its cost (John 11:2). She valued Jesus higher than anything else she owned. What seemed a waste to others was merely an overflow of love to her. 

So what about you? What’s in your alabaster vial? Pleasure, energy, and me-time may not be on your shelf, but what might you be hoarding that needs to be lavished upon Him? May this be a year of liberal giving to our Lord.