Faithfully Using Opportunities

“She hath done what she could.” —Mark 14:8

AS PREDICTED by the Master, Mary’s name and fame have come down through history, and her noble example of faithfulness and devotion to the Lord has been an inspiration to many who, like her, have sought an outlet through which to express their appreciation and love for him who had done so much for them. Like Mary, many also have found that often their self-sacrificing devotion to the Lord has been misunderstood by those who lacked the clear, spiritual vision necessary properly to appreciate the Master and his vital relationship to the divine plan of human redemption and salvation.

There are many helpful and valuable lessons to be derived from the account which tells of Mary’s devotion in anointing her Master’s feet with the precious ointment. One of these, we believe, is suggested in our text, “She hath done what she could.” In paying this compliment to Mary, Jesus expressed a principle that applies to all of his followers; namely, that what he is looking for in his people is not whether they can accomplish a given amount in his service, either by word or deed, but whether they are doing all that is possible for them to do, irrespective of how little or much that may be. This should be an encouragement!

The same principle is enunciated in the account of the widow who gave her “mite” into the Lord’s treasury. She proved her heart’s devotion simply because she too, just like Mary, did what she could. The widow’s mite was of very little value in comparison to the precious ointment used by Mary to anoint the Master’s feet, but in giving it she did what she could, and as a result received the divine approval.

Perhaps there is a reason why lessons of this kind are given special emphasis in the Scriptures. Perhaps that reason is that those of us who have but small opportunities to serve the Lord and his people are apt to underestimate the value of these opportunities, hence let them slip by unheeded and unused. This would seem to be borne out in the Parable of the Talents. The one who was given the ten talents made faithful use of them, but the one given but the single talent buried it, failing to realize, perhaps, that had he done what he could with the one talent he would have won the divine approval equally with the servant who had been given the ten talents.

Another test that comes to those who are able to do but little in the divine service is the fact that what they do is usually quite unnoticed by anyone except the Lord. This becomes a test of faith. Those in a position to render more prominent service, or to bestow larger gifts, sometimes receive a measure of approbation from fellow servants, which, while encouraging, might at the same time rob them of the rich joys of faith which are usually the heritage of those who serve in smaller ways. But where the heart is right the Lord will see to it that each one has such experiences as will best serve to prepare him for the larger service of the future age.

Mary’s service was a costly one, as figured in monetary value. It was a sincere expression of her unselfish heart devotion to the Master. While Jesus deeply appreciated it, others did not, and they manifested their disapproval in her very presence. This illustrates how those who give much, as well as those who give their “mite,” should be interested only in the approval of the Lord. Thus it is that while the service of some is unnoticed, the service of others is criticized and opposed, so that in the final analysis those whose hearts are not wholly set upon pleasing the Lord alone will sooner or later become weary in well-doing and fall by the wayside.

“She hath done what she could”—this is the full measure which the Lord looks for in any of his people. It is well that we examine ourselves sincerely in an effort to determine whether or not we are doing all that is in our power to do in the divine service. We cannot anoint the Master’s feet personally today, but we can render valuable and needed service to the “feet” members of Christ’s body. We can “lay down our lives for the brethren.” But are we doing it? Or are we endeavoring simply to store up in our own hearts the treasures of divine grace which reach us through the truth, and give little heed to ways and means by which we may be comforting the brethren?

We may feel that we would have laid down life itself for Jesus had we lived at the time of his first advent. If so, we should remember that he counts that which is done for his brethren as though it were done for him. We may rejoice in the glorious prospect of sharing with the Master in the future blessing of the world of mankind. If so, we will wish to use whatever opportunities are at hand to pass along a blessing to the world even now. Let us remember that we are now serving our apprenticeship for the great kingdom work of the future.

“She hath done what she could.” All do not have the same opportunities or the same abilities, but the divine measuring rod is not marked off by attainments and accomplishments, but by degrees of sincerity and wholeheartedness. Are we doing what we can? If so, by divine grace we are measuring up to the Lord’s requirements of what it takes to prove our faithfulness as “stewards of the mysteries of God.”

And, from the practical standpoint, the smaller and supposedly less important service rendered is just as vital to the whole as that part of the ministry which is perhaps more noticed. Take, for example, a public meeting: the brother whose privilege it is to proclaim the message from the platform may be thought of as being more important than the facts justify. From some standpoints his part in the witness is perhaps the easiest and least costly of the whole effort.

There is, for example, the hiring of the auditorium. The money required to do this may have been earned by weary hours of toil on the part of one or more brethren who donated it. And then think of the long hours spent by the several brethren who took part in the distribution of the advertising matter. If money was spent for newspaper advertising, this would probably represent additional real sacrifice on the part of the brethren who provided it.

Now, without this co-operation on the part of all concerned, there could be no public meeting. The speaker might study well his sermon, and be ready and willing to present the message as best he can, but apart from the many, many hours of preparatory service on the part of other brethren, his one hour of service on the platform would accomplish little.

We cite this example to illustrate how practical is the principle involved in the Master’s statement concerning Mary when he said, “She hath done what she could.” If all of us today, as consecrated children of God, do what we can in our own sphere of influence, seeking the while to extend that sphere as the Lord indicates it to be his will for us, we can rest assured that the Lord’s name will be glorified and his people blessed.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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