(message by Dr. Jack Graham--pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas. This church began participating in OCC in 1994 and has produced about 600,000 shoe boxes)
The shoe box is a tool, but there’s another story of a box in the Bible—the story of Mary and the alabaster box she broke over Jesus. Jesus said, “Wherever the gospel is preached what she has done will be a memorial unto me.” And we’re still talking about it. How many millions of dollars have come into the kingdom because of that lady and her alabaster box she presented to the Lord.
So I guess it’s a sign of age when we think about legacy. We really shouldn’t be thinking about leaving a legacy but about living a legacy.
Mary of Bethany lived a legacy. Every time you meet Mary in the Scripture she is at the feet of Jesus.
--she was at the feet of Jesus with her time (while Martha was serving)
--she was at the feet of Jesus with her tears (Lazarus' death)
--she was at the feet of Jesus with her treasure (her box of ointment)
When she anointed Jesus, though some denounced her for this act of love, Jesus defended her.
When I look at you this evening and what you have done. You may think it’s not big but it’s a beautiful thing to the Lord. It’s what we can do—each one of us.
This legacy we give to the Lord can be criticized. It’s a criticized work. When Mary gave her box, they said, “we could have given this to the poor.” I can tell you how never to be criticized: say nothing. Do nothing. Be nothing.
Some will hate us for the message we bring. The one who led the criticism against Mary was Judas. Judas didn’t care about the poor; he cared about the money. His criticism was a subterfuge for his greedy heart. The people who love Christ the most love the poor the most. What we’re doing is making an eternal difference in people’s lives.
When you’re criticized, what happened to Mary will happen to you—
--Jesus will defend you
--those who criticize you have the problem, not you
--Mary most likely didn’t even hear the criticism because she was focused on Jesus
I wish I had 10,000 lives to waste serving Jesus Christ. It was worth it to Mary to pour out everything she had saved for the Lord. Worship and worth are connected. What you value, you worship. There’s no greater love than to pour out your life in serving Him. She did what she could and Jesus commended her for it.
Mary was more instrospective than Martha. Mary wasn’t all that talented but she gave what she had. She broke the box and gave it to Jesus.
God uses all of us—Marys and Marthas—in big things and in little things. Moses had a rod but it was God’s rod and there was power in it. David had a sling shot but God won a battle with it.
The point is that it’s time to quit comparing ourselves to what others do for Jesus and start doing what we can do for Him. God will only require of you what He’s given to you.
Mary did what she could; she did all that she could.. Some people say, “If I had a million dollars I would do great things for the Lord.” But I tell them,, “You’d do the same thing with a million dollars that you do with the ten dollars you have.”
Mary’s was a criticized work but it was a commended work. It was also a coatly work. She didn’t save any for a rainy day. She didn't save anything for retirement. She didn’t hold anything back. She gave it all. Satan tells us to hold on to what we have.
Ask yourself, “Am I willing to break the box?” As pastors we’re always teaching people to give generously.
What we do, we need to do now. Mary anointed Jesus just one week before He died.
Jesus poured it all out. He didn’t save one drop of His blood. Mary, before His burial, anointed His body. She was listening to Jesus. Jesus had been telling everyone He was going to the cross. Mary was listening and because she was listening—she did what she could. She did all she could; and she did it when she could..
Don’t keep your alabaster box in your closet too long. Do what you can do now. We’re in the business of preparing people for death. That’s what Mary did. That’s our business. Don’t wait until it’s too late to witness, too late to serve, too late to give what you have.
Mary didn’t count the cost; she gave it all. And she could never have comprehended the consequnces.
She did what she could, she did all she could, and we’re still smelling the sweet perfume of her sacrifice today. Your legacy is not a material legacy. It’s what you do with what you have for Jesus. Not everything we do in life is going to last. Sports won’t last; clothes and cars won’t last. What’s going to remain when you’re gone. Your living legacy is what you do for Jesus.
This is our watch. This is our opportunity. We can’t do everything but we can do what we can, we can do all that we can, and we can do it when we can.
These will remain; your motive; your ministry; what is done for Christ. What is it about your life that will count for all eternity?
Daniel 12:3 says “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever..”
You are the stars of this ministry. What you are doing is going to last beyond your imagination. What value is just one life changed for Jesus Christ? You can’t measure that, but God is measuring it. You can’t even give a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name that He doesn’t notice.
Thank you for taking your box, your gift, and breaking it open and pouring it out on Him.