A woman brought an alabaster jar of very costly perfume and poured it all on Jesus. Jesus’ disciples were indignant, asking: “Why this waste? This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” (Matthew 26:8-9). But ultimately, perfume is meant to be used. Even if it is sold, the person who buys it would still “waste it” by using it.
Expensive perfumes are not intended for use by the poor. They can only be afforded by the rich. So what are Jesus’ disciples saying inadvertently? Is Jesus not rich enough to use expensive perfume? If not, who then can use it without it being a waste?
This raises a number of other questions. What makes something valuable? Is something valuable because of its cost, or is it valuable because of its use? Child of God, don’t make the same mistake as the disciples of Jesus. Don’t determine the value of something by its monetary price. The valuable things are those things that are useful to God.
Money belongs to Caesar: it does not belong to God. (Luke 20:23-25). That means it is not valuable at all. Money can only buy earthly values: it cannot buy kingdom values. Money cannot buy life. It cannot buy peace. It cannot buy the joy of the Lord. For this reason, Peter rebuked Simon the Sorcerer, saying to him: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!” (Acts 8:20). The things of God are bought without money and without price. (Isaiah 55:1).
Paradoxically, only the poor can afford the things of the kingdom of God. It is far too expensive for the rich. The rich usually have the means to pay for all the things of this world. But when a rich young ruler who desired to inherit eternal life was told the price, he discovered it was far too costly for him.
The cost of eternal life is a man’s life. However, the rich love their lives. They consider themselves to be blessed precisely because of the privileged lives they live. Therefore, they are not prepared to relinquish their riches for the sake of the kingdom. That is why Jesus says: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24).
The devil’s agenda
Money cannot be valuable because we are always giving it away in exchange for something else. Surely, the more valuable things are what we use money to buy. But then there is yet another imponderable here. It is difficult to think of anything of intrinsic value that can be bought for money. This presents a dilemma. We work all day to make some money and then use it to buy what is not valuable. This provides a framework for wasted lives.
Satan says: “All that a man has he will give for his life.” (Job 2:4). He does not say a man will give all he has for his money. But he implies he will give all his money for his life. This shows even the devil recognises that a man’s life is more valuable than his money. Without life, a man cannot even spend money. So what does the devil do? He creates a world in which a man gives his life for money. He creates a world in which a man spends his life making money; thereby ensuring that he wastes his life.
In order to make money, we have to spend something. In this world, what we spend is our life. In order to earn money, we have to spend life. An employer takes eight hours of our daily life and gives us money for it. More often than not, we spend our life making money but never even make enough money to become rich.
The valuable things are those things that are useful to God.
When a man spends his life making money, at the end, his life would have been spent. At the end of his life, his life would have been wasted; even if he might have made a lot of money. Moreover, at the end of his life, the money becomes useless to him: “For he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him.” (Psalm 49:17).
A man who spends his life making money cannot serve God. Jesus says: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24).
Theft of God
Jesus says furthermore: “The thief comes not but to steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10:10). What has the thief come to steal? What do we have that if it is stolen from us, will lead to our death and destruction? What was the devil determined to steal from Job? He was determined to steal God from him. God is by far our most valuable possession.
The devil brings adversity in order to drive us away from God. Thus, he said to God concerning Job: “Stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” (Job 2:5). After he had severely afflicted Job, he then sent his wife to finish the job: “Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!’” (Job 2:9).
Don’t be deceived: money is never the true cost of a thing. Money is not a currency of the kingdom of God. The kingdom currency is righteousness. The cost of your car is not how much money you paid for it. The cost is how much righteousness you had to forsake in order to buy it? Job says: “My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go; my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live.” (Job 27:6). Therefore, “offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.” (Psalm 4:5).
Never keep any valuables in the house or even in the bank. Only keep your valuables in your heart. That should indicate what your valuables can possibly be. Jesus cautions: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:20). God is our only treasure, and he dwells in our heart. All the rooms in the inn of our heart must be occupied by the Lord.
The Lord once asked me a characteristically loaded question. He said: “Femi, what do you own?” While still pondering how to answer, he decided to help me out. He said to me: “If what you have can be lost, then it does not belong to you. If it can be stolen, then it has no value. If it can be burnt or destroyed then it is illusory.” Then he asked me further: “So what do you have left?” The Holy Spirit helped me out: “The only ‘thing’ you have left is Jesus.”