The Alabaster Box

J.R. Miller

Mary had received richest blessings at the hand of her Lord. Her heart overflowed with love for him, and nothing in all the world was too dear or too costly to bestow upon him. So she brought an alabaster box of very precious ointment, broke the box, and poured the ointment on his head. She brought him the very best gift she had.

In the same way, we ought all to bring our best things to Christ. He gave the best he had for us. He gave his life. His heart was broken, and his precious blood was poured out upon our sin-stained earth. And now from his throne of glory he lavishes the best gifts of his love upon us. He does not give us the crumbs from his table, and the worn-out garments from his wardrobe. He seeks all Heaven through for its richest, best, and most beautiful things to bestow upon us. There is nothing in all his kingdom too good or too costly to give to us.

And we owe to him the best of everything we have. We should give him the best of our affections. He ought to have the warmest place in our hearts. Bring all the gems and jewels of your love, and put them in the crown of Jesus. Bring all the sweetness of your love and pour it upon the head and the feet of Jesus. Gather all the choicest affections of your heart into one precious alabaster box of perfume and bring it, and break it, and pour it out before him. Bring him the best offerings of your heart's love.

We ought to bring to Christ the best of our lives. Too many give him only the wasted remains. They spend the vigor of their youth, the strength of their manhood, the best of their life's energies, in the world, in business, in selfishness, in sin; and then, when they are old; when their heart's blood is wasted; when their life is burned down to the socket; when their limbs are stiffened with old age; when their eye is dim, their voice broken, and their energies are all exhausted; when there is only a weary, wasted body, a worn-out brain, a cold, frozen heart, and a lost soul; then they seek to bring this poor, worthless offering to Christ.

They wait until all the beauty has faded, until all the honey is sipped from the flowers, until all the music is gone out of the harp, and its strings are jangled and broken. They give the best to the world and bring only the faded leaves and dead ashes to Christ.

It is not such an offering that Jesus deserves. We ought to consecrate our childhood to him; to spend our youth in his service; to lay our manhood on his altar. Give him . . .
the arm when it is strongest,
the foot when it is swiftest,
the brain when it is clearest,
the heart when it is warmest,
the tongue when it is most eloquent.
Give the best to Jesus.

We ought to give to him our best services. There are too many professing Christians who have time for everything but the work of the Lord. They have time for business, for recreation, for pleasure, for all kinds of societies but no time for doing the work of the Lord.

Remembering the years Christ spent for us, how full they were of toils, of tears, of self-denials, of sacrifices do we not owe him the best services of our lives? Should it not be in his cause that we . . .
do our best work,
put forth our best energies,
expend our best abilities, and
attain our sublimest achievements?

Long ages ago an apostle wrote, "To me, to live is Christ." And it was so with all the true followers of Jesus in early Christian days. Before all things else, they lived for Christ. Whatever a man's occupation was, he was first of all a Christ follower. It was love for Christ . . .
that filled and thrilled his whole life,
that set his whole being on fire, and
that ruled all the passions of his soul.

But how is it now with the great mass of the followers of Christ? Are they not first merchants, or soldiers, or statesmen, or politicians, or mechanics and then far down in the scale of their lives, Christians?

I put the question to you, dear reader. What are you first? What is the one thing of your life . . .
which enkindles your warmest thoughts,
which inspires your loftiest enthusiasm,
which impels your best endeavors,
which weaves itself into all your plans and schemes,
which possesses your mind in the pauses of business and toil,
which mingles its threads in all the thoughts of your dreams,
which gives shape to all your efforts,
which underlies everything you do, and
which absorbs your best energies and your noblest services?

Is it the glory of God or is it your business, or your worldly ambition? No longer bring Christ the mere waste and fragmentary services of your lives. No longer make not your Christian life a secondary thing. Bring not to the altar of your Redeemer any more a cold, dead, heartless service. Put Christ first.

Do your best work,
sing your sweetest song,
speak your tenderest word,
perform your holiest ministry
  for him!

We should bring our best gifts to Jesus. In the olden days, no offering would be accepted at the altar which had any spot or blemish. The people were taught that they must bring their very best things to God.

But what kind of gifts do we bring to our dear Lord? Are they the rarest and choicest that our hearts can find? Or do we put him off with things that are of but trifling value to us?

Do not forget that he has given, and is ever giving to us, the best things in his universe.

He gave his best blood to ransom us.

He brings us the finest gold from Heaven's mountains.

He gathers for us the sweetest flowers that bloom in Heaven's gardens.

He plucks for us the rarest fruits that hang on Heaven's trees.

He fills our cups with wine pressed from the richest of Heaven's purple clusters.

He brings us the finest bread from his Father's table.

He puts upon our souls the loveliest garments that Heaven's looms can fashion.

And yet, is it not true that we keep our best things for ourselves and give him the things that we will miss the least from our own stores? When our cup runs over we give him the drops that fall from the brim. When we have eaten and are full we sweep up the crumbs for him. We sip the honey and the sweetness out of our flowers and give him the withered, faded leaves. We keep the bright dollars and give him the pennies. When times are hard and we find it necessary to economize, we begin our retrenchment at the Lord's end of our income. We keep the weeks for ourselves, and give him the minutes. Let us bring him our best. Let us take our dearest things and lay them on his altar. Nothing is too good or too costly to be bestowed on such a Savior.

You may work obscurely. Your friends may chide you and call you foolish thus to throw away your life.

But nothing is wasted, which is given to Christ.

No deed is in vain, which is done to him.

No life is lost, which is poured out upon his altar.

Gentle words are not lost, which are spoken in the homes of the poor and sorrowing.

Sweetness is not wasted, which is poured into hearts unused to sweetness.

Lessons are not lost, which are taught with loving patience to the ignorant.

Love is not wasted, which is poured out amid scenes of bitterness.

Beauty is not lost, which fades in toil for Jesus.

Money is not lost, which is given to the Lord.

He accepts the smallest deed of love, as done to himself. Every lowly service, every self-denial, every beautiful deed of love done to a suffering one is an alabaster box of ointment broken open to anoint his head and feet. And he will gather up the perfume and keep it sweet and sacred forever for a memorial of you!