Why Efficiency may not the best way in the end. . .

Epiphany- Day 56

Psalm 1 (NLT)

Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the LORD,
meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.

But not the wicked!
They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.
They will be condemned at the time of judgment.
Sinners will have no place among the godly.
For the LORD watches over the path of the godly,
but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

John 12:1-8 (NRSV)

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 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. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (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.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”


Why do we so readily equate the practice of good stewardship (or fiscal management) with efficiency? Is it because we are so hard wired to believe in an economy defined by scarcity? Or is it because our trust and security are  anchored in our financial reserves or our assets?

What if the practice of good stewardship is more about extravagance than efficiency? What if good stewardship cannot be equated with conservative fiscal policy? What if good stewardship is architected on the foundations of abundance? An ethos of extravagance comes from a place of profound gratitude. At times it will look like a ridiculous waste of a year’s worth of wages or the naieve’ act of an amateur.  It may appear as unwise risk taking to others. It may look like the complete abandonment of a high powered education and a high profile career in order to preach the gospel. “What a waste!” They always say. The extravagance of God, to the untrained eye, always looks absurd. And truth be told, it is.

But what if, in the Kingdom of God, the only real efficiencies can be found in extravagance.

Maybe the most important thing to remember is which accounting firm will be auditing the books in the end. ;0)   (jdw)


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