Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples...objected, “Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages."
Amy Carmichael was the daughter of an Irish pastor who left her home and family to spend 55 years--without furlough--ministering to orphans in India. She described missionary life as, "Simply a chance to die." Reach back farther into history and you'll come across women like Jeanne d'Arc who followed what she saw as God's calling, and ended her short life on a fiery stake. Both of these women--along with countless others--wasted their lives.
That's what the world says, anyway. The world says that these women may have done some great things (and probably applauds their "humanitarian" efforts), but the reason they gave for their missions--the Call of God--is stupid, insufficient, and laughable. That sort of thing all well and good for history books, but today's woman? She's got more important things to do.
"Why wasn't this perfume sold?"
What does the world tell us that we women need to do with our lives? What do our nearest and dearest tell us? Get an education, find your passion, follow your dreams, be all you can be, embrace life, be happy, etcetera, etcetera. But what if God has called you to spend the next thirty years of your life as a missionary in the burning sands of Africa? Or in a soup kitchen in the slums of East Saint Louis? Or as a submissive housewife in a suburban neighborhood? Or as a single woman without a boyfriend? Would the world (would your mother) be happy with that?
No. They wouldn't be. They would ask you why you wasted your life, why you didn't live up to your full potential, why you stopped short of the "goal". What goal? What or Who is your goal?
Mary understood. Mary knew somehow, in the recesses of her heart, that this might be the last time that she would ever see her Master, Teacher, Mentor, and Friend. So she did what she knew she had to do: she gave Him her all, her everything, what would take a working man a solid year of hard labor to earn. She poured it on His feet. She wasted it.
"Leave her alone."
Each one of us is like a fragile bottle of costly perfume that we can use as we wish. Will you dab it behind your ears for an enhancing fragrance? Or will you pour it out on your Lord's sweaty feet?
We're still talking about Mary's act of love, faith, and heroism. It was a sacrifice that no one understood, that people gaped at, that made them blame and ridicule her. The only one who understood was Jesus, and He was the only one who mattered.