On the wall of our bathroom there’s a framed picture of a beach scene with a starfish in the forefront. On the picture are printed the words of a story which may be known to some readers. The story is of a man who is walking along a beach and in the distance sees someone bending over, picking something up, and throwing it into the ocean. When he gets nearer, he sees that the young man he saw from a distance is picking up starfish stranded on the beach at high tide and is throwing them back into the water. There were thousands of the creatures littering the sand, doomed to die, separated from the water they needed to live. The man called out to the young man that what he was doing was futile. There were so many starfish on the beach that he couldn’t hope to make a difference to by his efforts. The young man smiled as he picked up another starfish and threw it into the ocean waves and simply replied, “It made a difference to that one!”
I’ve thought of the story above in relation to the passage in Mark’s gospel that today’s verse is taken from. Jesus was a guest in the home of Simon the Leper in the week leading up to His crucifixion. During the meal, a woman, identified in John 12 as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, came with an alabaster jar of expensive perfume and, breaking the jar, poured its contents on Jesus’ head. Some present at the meal immediately began to protest among themselves at this ‘waste’ of something so precious which could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. Their apparent piety and compassion for the poor wasn’t backed up by their harsh rebuke of Mary and her act of love and worship towards Jesus.
As I read Jesus’ defence of Mary, I was struck by His words in verse 8, ‘She did what she could’. What Mary did that day made a great difference. She blessed Jesus and we still read of it today in God’s word. Jesus expects each of His disciples to simply do what we can for Him, and He tells us that nothing we do in His name is without value or effect. Even a cup of water given in His name to someone seen as insignificant by others (a little one) will not go unrewarded or unnoticed (Matthew 10:42).
Today the Lord may have great and mighty works for you to do which will shake communities, but He also might have you do something which others might never notice – give a smile to someone who’s always ignored or listen to a lonely person pouring out their heart, as you stand in the queue at the post office. Whatever you do in Jesus’ name does make a difference.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, ‘I will offer up my life in spirit and truth, pouring out the oil of love as my worship to You’ (Matt Redman).
Please feel free to use this devotional to send on to your friends or share with your church fellowship. Provided full acknowledgement is made to Seeds of the Kingdom as the source, you are also welcome to use it in a non-commercial way and reproduce it in magazines or other Christian websites. The copyright for any commercial use of the material remains with Ellel Ministries International.