There has always been a spirit of criticism and judgment among God’s children. This is most evident on two occasions: The first occasion is when a child of God is caught in a sin.
The second occasion, though it may sound strange, is when a child of God lavishes his or her love on God. There has always been people to criticize an extraordinary show of love towards God. And this kind of criticism comes from those children of God whose hearts are not right with God.
The Bible gives us two instances where criticism was leveled against those who expressed their love of God in a lavish manner.
Reflection 1: David and Michal
(2 Samuel 6 & 1 Chronicles 13, 15)
After David had established himself as king of Israel in Jerusalem he decided to bring the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem. So he set out with a chosen thirty thousand men to bring the ark.
They put the ark of God in a new cart. As the procession started to move forward David and his men were dancing and celebrating before the Lord with all their might.
But disaster struck soon. When the cart reached the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark of God because the oxen stumbled. Since he took hold of the ark God’s anger burned against Uzzah because this was an irreverent act.
God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God. David became afraid of God that day. So he did not take the ark of the Lord with him to Jerusalem. Instead it was taken to the house of Obed-Edom where it remained for three months. And God blessed him and his entire household.
This was reported to King David. When he heard that God had blessed Obed-Edom and his household because of the ark of God, David decided to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem as he had planned originally.
This time he inquired of God as to how to bring up the ark of God as prescribed in the Law of Moses. He found out that the Levites should carry the ark with poles on their shoulders.
David was wearing a linen ephod and he was clothed in robe of fine linen as were all the Levites carrying the ark and the singers. There was great music and shouting as the ark was brought to Jerusalem. David in joyful abandon was dancing and celebrating before God.
Michal, Saul’s daughter and David’s wife, was watching all this from a window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing she despised him in her heart. After setting the ark of the Lord in its designated place King David went home to bless his household.
He was met by Michal saying: “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”
To this criticism, David replied that he had done that before the Lord who chose him to be ruler over His people Israel. He added that he will celebrate before the Lord and will become even more undignified if it was demanded. He also told her that even if he would humiliate himself in this fashion the slave girls would still treat him with honor.
God punished Michal by giving her no children till the day of her death.
As we look back at this incident we find that David was full of rejoicing when he brought the ark of God to Jerusalem. His mind was full of joy. His heart was full of the thoughts of His God. Therefore he celebrated before God.
But this brought criticism from his own wife; from one who loved him and who was so close to him. Yet this criticism did not shake David’s faith in God nor his determination to be lavish in his love towards God and in his celebration before God.
Reflection 2: Mary and Judas Iscariot
(John 12:1 to 9)
This incident happened at the house of Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead. It happened six days before the Passover at the place called Bethany. At Lazarus’ home a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served. Lazarus was with everyone reclining at the table.
Then Mary, their sister, took a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume, and poured it on Jesus’ feet. She then wiped his feet with her hair. The fragrance of the perfume filled the entire house.
Then Judas Iscariot objected. He asked: “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” The Bible records that he said this not because he cared for the poor. But he said this because he was the keeper of the money bag and he used to take money out of it for his own needs.
But Jesus came to Mary’s rescue. He asked them to leave her alone. He said that she had saved the perfume for the day of his burial and it was appropriate that she did that then because he would not be with them always. He added that the poor would always be with them.
As we look back at this incident we find that Mary had lavished her love and money on Jesus by pouring out the expensive perfume on his feet. But this act of love and adoration and gratitude was immediately criticized by Judas Iscariot. He looked only at the outward waste. Yet Jesus appreciated the action of Mary. Judas, as we know, soon met with a miserable end after having betrayed his Master.
The simplest and yet the most profound lesson from these reflections is that your love for God and its expression is between you and God alone. Others may never understand why you are so lavish in your expression of love towards God.
It could be your joyful abandon in worship or it could be your lavish spending for God’s cause. It could even be both.
Know that criticism is bound to come. It will come not from your enemies but from those closest to you; from your innermost circle.
It need to be noted that you will have to be bold in the knowledge that it is before God that you are lavishing your expression of love. Only a strong assurance of this fact will help you survive the criticism. David is a good example of this.
From Mary’s life we find that she expressed the lavishness of her love in a very expensive manner at the MOST APPROPRIATE TIME. That was what Jesus’ appreciated.
If you read the gospels you will note that the women including Mary never got the chance to anoint Jesus’ body after his death though they went to the tomb to do the same. By that time Jesus had already risen from the dead.
So let not people’s criticism prevent you from expressing your lavish love for God. The next opportunity might be too late.
And to those who criticize others who are lavish in their expression of love towards God, beware. God judges those who have such harsh thoughts towards His children who are lavish in their expression of love towards Him.
Remember Michal and Judas Iscariot before you open your mouth to criticize. Isn’t it a hundred thousand times better to be lavish in your love towards God than be found in the company of those who criticize.
If you are lavish in your love, your appreciation comes from Jesus. Isn’t that enough and more?