[470 words]

These words spoken by Jesus memorialize the actions of a woman who anointed his head with a very valuable ointment. Several denounced the apparent waste of this expensive item, saying that it should have been sold to help the poor. Jesus defended her with the words used in the title above, found in Mark 14:8.

Many lessons can be drawn from this passage, but the words of Jesus call attention to an important lesson that is often overlooked. This woman did not try to protect Jesus from his enemies, nor to prevent his death. Instead, she chose to honor him with the ointment, unknowingly anointing him for burial. She did what she could do, not what she could not do. This concept is repeated by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:12 in reference to the contribution at Corinth: “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (2 Corinthians 8:12).

The Bible speaks often of appearing at judgment to give account of our deeds accomplished while here on Earth. Nowhere does it say we will be held accountable for evil deeds we have not done, nor will we be held accountable for abilities which we do not possess. It is possible that, unconsciously, we have used this doctrinal truth as an excuse not to do what we could.

Jesus tells the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. Most of us realize that the word talent in this parable refers to a certain quantity (weight) of a precious metal, and thus speaks of a quantity of money. It is interesting that we use the word talent in the English language to refer to an ability we possess. We talk about talented singers, writers, and speakers. In the parable three men are given talents according to their ability. One was given five, the second two and the last was given one talent. Most attention is focused on the one talent man who did not use his talent to earn more for his master. He is called unprofitable and is cast into outer darkness. What of the other two? Each used his ability and caused the money to double, from five to ten, and from two to four. These two were rewarded for their resourcefulness.

It is often easy to examine our life and moan about the things we cannot do. In so doing we become like the one talent man. Instead, we should be like the five- and two-talent men and use our abilities in our master’s service. We should be honest in our appraisal of our abilities, and like the woman in the story, do what we can do. This is pleasing to our Lord, and will be rewarded. 

Tony W. Boyd
Jackson church of Christ
Jackson, MO

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