EVERYTHING: A Beautiful Thing
I wonder what it was like for her, kneeling before Jesus, as she poured the ointment over His head before all the disciples. I think about whether she spoke to Him as she opened the precious flask of such expensive oil and placed it on her Lord. I imagine what it was like, having Jesus respond on her behalf to those who discredited her costly act of worship.
“For she has done a beautiful thing to me”, Jesus says (Matt 26:10).
What stands out to me most in this unexpected encounter is the boldness of this faithful woman’s act of love. As I read this story, again and again, I am challenged by her unashamed attention to my Savior. In the face of ridicule and judgment, she offered her most prized possession in worship to her King.
Unlike the rich young ruler’s resistance to surrender his prized possessions of earthly worth, this woman willingly exchanged what was considered valuable for the eternal purpose of worshiping Christ as Lord.
I see this same theme parallelled in our text, as Paul boldly states his exchange of worldly worth for the gift of gaining Christ and being found in Him.
He says, ” for his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.”
In reading this passage, we can see how Paul’s words were not forced or fickle but rather wrapped in the confidence of what he considered to be His greatest good.
For the women at Jesus' feet, surrender was a sweet act of her affection. It was a beautiful expression of her belief in the purpose and presence of Christ. Knowing that Jesus would shortly be brought to the cross, she gave what many there considered “too much”.
I believe this is what love does.
It changes and rearranges our whole world.
They are so simplicity replaced.
Do we even grieve the loss of such things once our souls have surrendered to the pursuit of another’s embrace?
Of course not! We often see this act of love as “ a beautiful thing”.
I believe this is how Paul viewed his relationship with Christ.
His willingness to “lose all things” and “consider them worthless” was directly related to what he knew he would gain in Christ.
The word “gain” is defined as, “exchanging (trading) one good for another; what is mediocre ("good") for the better, i.e. "trading up".
In a sermon on this passage, Alexander Maclaren comments on Paul’s words of exchange, stating, “The 'gain' is, of course, the opposite of the 'loss.' His balance-sheet has on one side 'all things lost,' on the other 'Christ gained,' and that is profitable trading."
He deepens this concept of Christ’s indwelling by explaining that it is the sum of abiding in Christ and allowing His character to transform us into His likeness.
This description of the possessing and indwelling of Christ provides a completed point of view when Paul says, “and found in Him”. For we truly gain Christ when we are found in Him. This effort is not measured by perfection or pressured by production but rather a practice of placing all other prizes at Jesus’ feet.
Faith is the culmination of Christ’s invitation to be our everything.
This is why Paul reminds his readers, “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”
Paul acknowledges that true righteousness is not found in keeping the rules of a religious order; He preached the futility of seeking to gain moral character through modifying one’s behaviors and maintaining one’s effects to autonomously obtain sufficiency.
Depending on anything other than Christ to be our everything will eventually leave us with nothing.
Maclaren says it this way, “To seek after righteousness which is 'my own,' is to seek what we shall never find, and what, if found, would crumble beneath us. To seek the righteousness which is from God is to seek what He is waiting to bestow, and what the blessed receivers know is more than they dreamed of.”
What type of love is it that we have surrendered to?
Christ offers us, in love, His very own righteousness through bravely placing our faith in Him.
No more running after our recognition.
No more working for our worth.
No more shaming our past sinfulness.
This is what Paul came to know:
Christ’s love alone can heal what had been hurt.
Christ’s righteousness alone can restore the heart's internal war.
Christ’s goodness alone is what redeems the deepest of dreams.
Christ’s fullness alone is what fills us up full.
How sweet this surrender sounds to my soul! The truths of Christ’s Word invite me to boldly come to His feet, in faith, pouring out all that I possess, so that He alone can be my everything.
Oh, how I long to hear Christ say, “For she has done a beautiful thing...”
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
What does surrender mean to you?
What love do you feel as though you have surrendered to?
Is giving everything to Christ more of a struggle than a sweet step towards satisfaction?
What would it look to view surrender to Christ as gaining rather than losing what we love?
What two ways can you practice “being found in Him” this week?