Unnamed: Woman at Bethany

Posted by

I love to-do lists! I am constantly making lists to keep myself on track and I have a running list of things that I intend to accomplish every single day. By writing all of the pending items down, I am able to see what is outstanding and prioritize accordingly. I want to make sure that I direct my efforts toward completing the right tasks at the right time.

Just like my to-do list, I want to constantly check and recheck my priorities in life. If I get distracted and my priorities get out of whack, it’s bad for me and for everyone else involved. It’s easy for work or comfort or my wants to take priority over God, something that I have to constantly reorder in my mind.

Do you ever find the priorities of your life shifting out of order?

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of 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.” Mark 14:3-6 (NIV)

What stands out the most to me in this story is that this woman’s priorities are in the correct order and the Pharisees’ priorities were not. The sad thing about this story, however, is that my priorities often look like that of the Pharisees’ instead of the woman’s.

What about you?

Because I have been in the church culture for so long, I can find myself going through the motions of faith. I can go to church, serve, read my Bible, pray, even write books or this blog because that’s just what I do. These are habits that I’ve developed and, if I’m not careful, I can fall into the trap of doing things for God instead of spending time with God. I can be filled with activity instead of filled with reverent worship. I can be so focused on the external, that I forget that God judges the heart.

The woman at Bethany reminds me that our actions are always motivated by belief. This woman loved the Lord so much that she was willing to go into one of the most hostile environments that existed for her at that time: a room full of judgmental religious men. Even though she was probably terrified in that moment, nothing was going to dissuade her from expressing her gratitude to God. She understood his goodness, her sinfulness, and was compelled to take action.

I appreciate that this story invites us all to examine our priorities and look at our hearts. Gratitude to God can be expressed in a thousand different ways, but this woman’s actions remind me to express my gratitude intentionally.  We shouldn’t just go about our days and weeks doing things from rote or on auto-pilot, but we should always seek to accept his grace more and more and give from the overflow.

I believe that as we understand God’s goodness and our sinfulness more, our worship will move beyond just something we do, to a deeply ingrained part of our lives.

To go Deeper: Read Growing Gratitude by Digging Deep, Belief Determines Behavior
Check out A Proverb A Day available on Amazon!


  1. Great points, Sarah. It’s easy to get to the point of just going through the motions. Don’t know if this is weird, but praying out loud is pushing me to be more authentic. I love how this woman jolts us from our money-first mindset and reminds us what really matters,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think that’s weird at all, I will often find myself drifting into praying aloud as I go about my day. It helps me to stay focused and more intentional as I pray. I love that this story helps me always put my perspectives back in the correct order!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s