My mum was a quiet lady; she was gentle and kind and wise. Growing up, I always remember her using the expression, “Actions speak louder than words.” She used it to teach me the value of showing that I meant something was more authentic than just saying the words and perhaps not following it up or living it out.                                                                                 

This came to mind as I studied the accounts we read in the gospels of Mary of Bethany. What she did had more impact, even for us today, than what she said. We only hear of her speaking one time, when she encountered Jesus after Lazarus’ death. There she said, “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32). Mary’s words expressed faith and trust, even in her sorrow and grief, and they are backed up by a life lived in surrender and devotion to the Lord.                                                                                                                             

When we read the account of how Mary poured out the perfume on Jesus’ feet we see that her worship was intentional and costly (John 12:1–11). She knew she would be in the presence of Jesus when He came for dinner, so she came prepared. There’s a lesson here, too, if we pause to consider how, perhaps sometimes, we rush straight into our quiet times to get a word for the day, present our requests in prayer, and then off we go back out into our busy lives. Maybe we even arrive at our church services with hearts that are not prepared to meet with the living God and to hear from His Word.                                                                                       

Mary brought something to her worship of Jesus that was precious and sacrificial. John tells us that she anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive aromatic oil made from pure nard (John 12:3). This would have been worth about a year’s wages! Then we read that she wiped his feet dry with her hair. These actions would have been very out of place in the culture of the day, yet Mary did not care for others’ opinions of her or how they might judge or criticize her. She lived to love Jesus wholeheartedly and poured out her all before Him. 

Mary’s worship was also fueled by thankfulness for the amazing, miraculous thing that Jesus had just done: He raised her brother Lazarus back from the dead! Gratitude and praise are a natural response to this incredible answer to her heart’s cry, as only days before she was filled with sorrow and grief.                                                                                                                  

What then do we do when our prayers are not answered in the way we hoped, when the healing doesn’t come, or when it seems that Jesus doesn’t show up? Is He any less worthy of our worship? No, of course not. It’s not easy, it may not come naturally, but when we pour out our hearts in real, raw, honest despair and disappointment, it becomes a sacrifice of praise to the One who gave His all for us. And there, in our brokenness, Jesus meets us and pours out the healing balm of His presence and peace, giving His beautifully surrendered daughter the divine exchange of “a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3, NIV).

Mary’s act of worship symbolized more than she ever realized at that moment, as she anointed Jesus “for the day of my burial” (John 12:7), which Jesus explains to Judas, who protested at Mary’s extravagant action. Little did they know that what lay ahead that very week would lead to the ultimate act of sacrifice and submission, as Jesus’ life was poured out upon the cross because of His great love for you and me.

Let’s pause here together, for a moment, at the foot of the cross.     

Bowed in worship and awe, receiving His forgiveness and cleansing, allowing His unconditional, extravagant love to flood our souls and remind us that we are His. Chosen. Rescued. Redeemed. Restored. 

Like Mary, may we choose the better part and pursue the presence of Jesus in our lives more and more.

“Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” Ephesians 5:1–2

Have you heard? Our Choosing God Instead of the World Bible study is available to order! 

Join us as we complete our study of the Book of Genesis. As we study the lives of Jacob and Joseph we’ll discover what it means to choose the things of God over the things of the world. You can jump in with this study, and you can study the rest of Genesis in In the Beginning and Faith over Perfection.

Click the image below to find out more!

100% of the proceeds from your order go straight back to the ministry, helping us fight biblical illiteracy around the world and equip women with God’s Word in 40+ languages. 

Thank YOU for your investment and support! 

Read more about our mission and the languages we reach here.

More from Love God Greatly:





Katie Shott loves Jesus, loves people, and loves life! Born and bred in Northern Ireland, she lives in Belfast with her amazing husband, Andrew, where they are both involved in serving God in their local church and passionate about global missions. Katie’s heart is for our persecuted brothers and sisters across the world and she is constantly challenged by their courage and faith as they follow Jesus, whatever the cost. Katie loves to laugh and chat over coffee with friends; she knows all the best coffee shops in Northern Ireland, and if you ever come to visit her beautiful ‘wee’ country, she promises to take you to some!

Grab a journal, build a community,
change women's lives.

Thanks! Make sure you like our Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest pages - and let us know if you'd like to get involved with sharing God's Word with women globally!

Pin It on Pinterest