Callings and Arguments

In John 12:1-7, Judas chastised Mary for anointing Jesus’ feet with an expensive, fragrant oil, which he argued could’ve been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. Jesus replied, “Leave her alone; she has kept it for the day of my burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.”

According to John, Judas had ulterior motives for making this argument, but at that moment, Jesus didn’t address them, so neither will I. Instead, what this verse makes me consider is a thought that, sometimes what I think I should do prevents me from perceiving and doing what would actually be fitting and optimal for the situation. God’s calling for a situation might not necessarily track with what seems humanly sensible. What I think a situation calls for needs to be defined by a continual walk with the Holy Spirit, because God’s capacity to recognize what would be optimal for a situation is way beyond my capacity to recognize what would be optimal for a situation. What, in my mind, defines the parameters by which I decide what is optimal for a situation? Is it legalism, is it fear of conflict, is it the desire to please other people? Is it the cultural norms I grew up with? Is it politeness? Is it a particular set of religious hang-ups? It seems to me that there are some basic principles like being honest and generally not being a jerk, but beyond those few basics I think God values acting for the long-term benefit of a person, which is love, over politeness. I think He values a person’s mind getting free higher than He values a person’s immediate comfort. There are a higher callings than the pressure to sensibility and convention, and therefore it is not always obvious what words or actions would be optimal for a situation. When God defines what is beneficial, those hierarchies of value and sensibility get rearranged, and therefore, the possible courses of action that might get deemed optimal become much more vast and varied. That sounds like freedom to me.

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