Leave Her Alone!
by Jacob Hudgins
“But Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing for me”(Mark 14:6).
Mary had brought her nicest perfumed oil and poured it on Jesus’ head. It was a work done to honor Jesus and show her faith in him, but it caused an uproar. “Why was the ointment wasted like that?”(Mark 14:4). Like us, these were men of the bottom line, thinking of something more valuable or lasting that could have been done with such oil. “For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor”(Mark 14:5). Such a spirited defense for the poor! “And they scolded her.” How comforting to hear the Master stand up for her. “Leave her alone!”
Criticism is so easy. When others are laboring for the Lord, making difficult decisions, and working out their faith, it is easy for us to point out missteps and mistakes. We can shake our heads at them, wondering why they don’t do this or that differently. Yet when they are trying earnestly to serve the Lord and our criticism dissuades them, it is difficult not to picture Jesus training his gaze on us and saying “Leave her alone!”
That is not to say that we should not try to teach and gently help our brethren. We “bear one another’s burdens”(Gal 6:2) and “encourage one another and build one another up”(1 Thess 5:11). But the critical spirit—the one that sees every typo in the bulletin, every poor wording in the prayer, every disobedient child not immediately punished—is no part of edification.
Teddy Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.” Perhaps our criticism would be best solved by us getting busy ourselves, throwing ourselves into the arena of service for Christ!