These Holy Week reflections will be available beginning at 5:00 PM each day through the FCC Facebook page and on the FCC website. The purpose is simple: to invite you to read, reflect and pray. It’s all part of the work of preparing ourselves for what is coming and discovering once more the truth that is found within the most difficult story of our faith.
Read: John 12:1-12
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
Identifying the motives that drive the decisions that other people make can be hard to assess, sometimes impossible. Even when a person confesses their true motives we might find it hard to accept based on what we see happening. Who of us hasn’t been unwilling to extend our trust when the actions and words of a person don’t appear to agree. I am still amazed at how convinced someone can be that their motives are genuine and sincere, even though to me and others this is not how it appears.
Maybe Judas had convinced himself that he was sincerely concerned for the poor when he protested the act of service Mary performed by wiping the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume. Without the clarification in this text about his real motives, any one of us would think his idea was a good one, as if he was just being practical and a good steward. This makes me wonder about how easy it is for us to convince ourselves that our motives are about serving others when in reality we are only serving ourselves.
If it’s hard to understand the motives of others, it must be just as hard, even harder, to be clear about our own. One way to think about motives is to ask ourselves a simple question: What do I stand to gain by _______? Fill in the blank with anything you might do for others. If your service to others is highly visible and brings you recognition then how does that affect your motivations? Do you experience disappointment if your service is not recognized? Have you experienced your act of service as a way of alleviating guilt?
I believe all of us get our motives mixed up at times, and what we do becomes more about us than serving people and serving God. Admitting this creates a window into our hearts through which God can help us see the truth about who we really are and how we need to change.
Holy God, give me the humility to see the true motives of my heart and the courage to set aside my own needs and comforts so that I may be of more service to you. Amen