Tag Archives: alabaster box

08. The (not) ideal home: She did what she could

God has a unique plan for each of us in nurturing our children. We cannot be fathers to our offspring, but if we will be mothers committed to God, that will be enough!

“She did what she could” (Mark 14:8).

An Unnamed Woman: Her Best Was Enough

Jesus was visiting in the home of a man named Simon when a woman did something so significant that most people could not comprehend it.

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.

–Mark 14:3-8

Jesus said of the woman who anointed him, “She did what she could,” and Jesus indicated that was enough.

Was it enough that she simply anointed Jesus from an alabaster box or jar of sweet-smelling perfume? Will it be enough if we just determine some quality things to do with our children? Will it be enough if we take them to church? Will it be enough if we provide them with an ideal Christian home? According to whose ideals? And what if we don’t have an ideal home? What is enough?

There were a lot of things this woman couldn’t do. She probably would not have been allowed to stand and give a speech on the greatness of Jesus Christ. She couldn’t travel with Jesus daily. Possibly circumstances prevented her from being able to host him in her home.

So she did what she could. She made this simple little gesture of anointing him. Or was it simple?

According to the passage quoted above, this was no ordinary perfume. It was valued at “more than a year’s wages,” and some felt it could have better been used to feed the poor. The contents of the alabaster box were treasured in the family–reserved to be used for burial. What she gave was no simple gesture. Not only did it cost her monetarily, but it cost her much ridicule from many of the religious people who observed.

There were other things she could have done. She could have spoken words of praise to Jesus. She could have offered to bring lunch to him and his disciples the next day at less expense than that of the perfume. She could have used a relatively inexpensive perfume on his feet. But she gave the very best that she had.

That is what is required of us as parents. No simple textbook formula will do. Taking our children to church alone won’t cut it. “Quality time,” so often lauded, can’t measure up to God’s standard. Idealism based on man’s ideals is unrealism.

We are not required to do what we cannot, but we are accountable before God to do all that he instructs us to do for each individual child. This will be costly. Our goal must not be to impress our Christian friends or absolve our conscience that we have followed the “rules.” Our goal must constantly be to do the best thing in this particular situation to help this child to know God better.

There are many excellent books written by Christian authors on parenting. There is much good advice from Christian friends and leaders. But as we study God’s Word for ourselves and pray, only God can reveal if we are to use this particular advice to apply to this child in this situation, and if not, what God would have us do.

Moses’ Mother: Her Time Was Enough

Moses’ father and mother were both Jews from the tribe of Levi. From a very young age, Moses was raised by a pagan princess. But God gave his parents the opportunity to start him out for God first.

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

“Yes, go,” she answered. And the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

–Exodus 2:5-10

Moses grew to be a great leader of God’s people, and God through Moses gave us the first 5 books of the Bible. Moses’ mother took full advantage of the time God gave her with her son. She followed God’s leadership, and she raised her son for God while she had Moses with her. And that was enough!

Ah, that we as mothers would quit blaming our circumstances and just do all God says to do. That too will be enough!

It is time that we quit excusing ourselves because we don’t have an ideal home where Dad demonstrates his loving authority as the God-appointed head of the home. He leads Spiritually at the family altar. He has the wisdom of Solomon in rearing his family. He maintains the children’s respect of their mother. He supports her and she supports him. He makes sure love and discipline are balanced. The mother trains and teaches under the auspices of the father’s Spiritual umbrella.

There are homes where this Scriptural ideal is realized. Praise God for them. But these homes are rare in our day. We do not live in an ideal world. Sin has corrupted what God ordained. So often Dad goes the opposite way, and leads the children away from God, seemingly obliterating the Spiritual teaching the mother makes in her children’s lives. Or refusing to allow her freedom to teach as she would.

But God will not be obliterated! God has provided a way to overcome sin, through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. Let’s quit moaning about how we cannot raise our children for God because of our husbands. Or our lack of a husband.

If we have the Holy Spirit of God living in us, how dare we say we can’t because our husbands don’t! Sin has often torn apart the ideal. But God specializes in undoing what sin has done in individual circumstances! God will make a way if we as mothers trust him and obey him.

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen

–Ephesians 3:20-21; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 5:22

We women are never instructed to oppose our husbands in the rearing of our children. On the contrary, God strictly forbids us to oppose our husbands. He tells us to submit ourselves to our own husbands.

If we set our mind to obey God in this, he will never allow our husbands to require us to blatantly participate in that which is in direct opposition to God’s precepts. God will not put us in a position where we are forced to choose between two of his commandments. God will make away to escape.

What greater teaching can we give our children than that of our example in obedience to our husbands as instructed in the Word of God?

Abraham: His Faith Was Enough

Abraham sacrificed his son at God’s command. We may seemingly be sacrificing our children to sin in obedience to our husbands. Abraham believed God would raise his son if he obeyed God, and God provided a lamb and rescued Abraham’s son.

Our children are about to be destroyed, and God has provided a lamb. We, like Abraham, believe that God’s Son, the Lamb, will either rescue or raise our children if we are obedient to God.

Application

Our trust in God’s intervention does not excuse us from doing what we can, as God leads. As long as our husbands do not oppose our Spiritual efforts in our children’s lives, we are free to do all we want. When our husband’s do oppose that we propose to do, we must revise our plans. It may take a little more innovation to find “husband-approved” methods of teaching our children God’s precepts, but if this is the life God has called us to, he will make a way!

We are not permitted to give up. We cannot be a father to our children. But God has not called us to be fathers. God has called us to be mothers.

Thought to Remember

Let us follow the unique plan God has called each of us to in the nurturing our children for him. God will magnify our efforts exceeding abundantly above that we ask or think. And if we will be mothers sold out to God, that will be enough!

Questions for Discussion

  1. How much training is “enough”?
  2. How do we know whose advice to follow as parents?
  3. What if circumstances prevent us from doing what we feel is best for our child?
  4. What if our husband opposes our training methods with our children?

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted