Spontaneous, Extravagant Love and Devotion

A head shot portrait of a smiling elderly woman with glasses and white hair holding a blond-haired young girl in her arms with the girl's arms wrapped around her neck and sunlight streaming on both of them

True love does not cautiously hold back its feelings from the one it loves. Love is spontaneous, and may burst forth in amazing ways that we never plan in advance. The one quality that distinguishes love is that it comes forth, not by force, but from our free will.

“…in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,…there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on [Jesus’] head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold…and…given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on Me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but Me ye have not always. She hath done what she could…” (Mark 14:3-8).

Mary took the very best she had and gave it all to Jesus, with no concern for what it cost her. Have we ever given the best that we have for Jesus like this?

This woman broke open a bottle of oil that was probably worth a year’s wages and poured all of it over Jesus’ head. Some present began murmuring about what she did and saying that the cost of the oil should have been spent on the poor. They believed she was wasting it. These are the kind of people who think that giving a year of their life to the Lord would also be a waste. Yet, what would they think about people who give their entire life to God! But Jesus said that Mary “wrought a good work on Me” because it sprung forth from her spontaneous love for Him. He said “She hath done what she could.” Mary took the very best she had and gave it all to Jesus, with no concern for what it cost her. Have we ever given the best that we have for Jesus like this? Has our love for Jesus ever touched His heart the way Mary did that day?

A young woman sitting with one leg outstretched and the other bent to support a book being read while inside a building in front of a pair of doors that open out to a bright, snow covered deck and forest in the background

The love we have for Jesus should have exceedingly more passion than the love we could have in any earthly attachment. But we are not to be just an intense follower or supporter of Jesus. As His disciples, we are to be His willing bondservants, entirely devoted to Him, based on our love for Him. We belong to Him—plain and simple.

Simply responding to men’s needs is not what Jesus called us to do. There was no cause that He ever declared for us to rally around.

Christians should not be devoted to working for Jesus, or for His cause, or even to a certain doctrine. Our devotion should be to the Man, Jesus. He was obedient first and foremost to the will of His Heavenly Father, not to men’s needs. And we should be the same. Simply responding to men’s needs is not what Jesus called us to do. There was no cause that He ever declared for us to rally around. What He did declare was our need to be personally devoted to Him so He can direct our life as He wants to.

The one thing our heart should be caught up in is impassioned and personal devotion to Christ. Our devotion to Him is the only thing that can move us deeply, not our devotion to His doctrine. One great loyalty fueled the Apostle Paul—his personal, passionate devotion to Jesus. And the only One who can make us passionate, devoted lovers of Jesus is the Holy Spirit. 

A painting of Jesus standing on a rocky elevated portion of a mountainous region with his arms outstretched speaking to a group of Middle Eastern men during the daytime

Jesus’ disciples devoted themselves to Him as a man, not to principles He laid out. The devil encourages us to devote ourself up to the day we die to some cause, or project, or anything else, but never to Jesus. In her spontaneous act of extravagant giving, Mary of Bethany demonstrated her deep devotion that was first and foremost to her beloved Jesus. Have we also been so devoted to Him that He is able to work out His purposes in us?

The reason we don’t abandon ourself is because we don’t yet truly trust Him. But once we do, we won’t consider asking Him questions like what is He going to do with our life.

We can only find true rest in this world by abandoning our life and self to God. If we need to ask “What should I do about this?” before we give to God, or work for Him, then we have not yet abandoned ourself to Him. The reason we don’t abandon ourself is because we don’t yet truly trust Him. But once we do, we won’t consider asking Him questions like what is He going to do with our life. If we can get it through our heads that God is the One who is to plan and guide our life, we won’t whimper or complain, but will freely give ourselves to Him with reckless abandon.

A woman with long brown hair sitting in a maroon pew looking down, eyes closed, in prayer with her arms outstretched in front of her and hands clasped together while wearing a large wristwatch with gold band and white face

Are we at a point where we dare to ask God for things? Then we haven’t entered even the outskirts of abandoning to Him yet, but are still approaching Him from our own viewpoint instead. Do we come when He tells us to? Once we do, we’ll go and reproduce what He has told us. Everyone who has answered His call to come to Him has done it with abandon. Have you come to Him? If not, why not come to Him right now?

Christ is looking for disciples who have abandoned themselves to Him. If we will abandon ourself to God, then He will be able to work through us. Abandonment to Him is of infinitely more value than our own private, personal holiness is to Him. 

The only time Jesus praised what someone did was when Mary lavishly anointed Him, giving all the expensive oil she had, seemingly for no purpose. This anointing was a demonstration of what He was about to do also. He held up her act of love beside His own Cross.

Mary’s spontaneous and extravagant act of devotion revealed that she was totally in sympathy with Jesus. No real, obvious need existed for her to do this act. It was not a responsibility she had to carry out, but a spontaneous act of extravagance which no one present could see a reason for. She poured out what her heart felt without restraint. If only we could see that God is like this too. Everything about Him is extravagant. Gorgeous sunsets continually come and go that no person ever sees. How many plants give forth abundant blooms and fruit no one looks at or makes use of? The only time Jesus praised what someone did was when Mary lavishly anointed Him, giving all the expensive oil she had, seemingly for no purpose. This anointing was a demonstration of what He was about to do also. He held up her act of love beside His own Cross. And our heavenly Father becomes delirious with joy whenever He sees one of His own showing extravagant, spontaneous devotion like Mary did!

A person sitting on a sea wall in the far right side of the photo looking across a very large body of water towards the skyline of a large distant city

We need to realize that, no matter where or what God assigns us to, the one great purpose we should have is to pour out our heart in devotion to Him. Whatever He shows us to do, we should do with all our might. The heavenly Father broke the perfect life of His only begotten Son so He could save mankind. Will we now pour out all we have in our life for His sake? He gave us the most precious thing He had when He gave us His Son. Now He wants us to abandon our life to Him, to break and distribute as He sees fit—having total confidence that He will use it wisely.

[Image credits: Featured image(when applicable) Clikr-Free-Vector-Images/pixabay; Ekaterina Shakharova/unsplash;Kelly Sikkema/unsplash; William Hole/Library of Congress/public domain; Naassom Azevedo/unsplash;Free-Photos/pixabay]