The Fragrance of Humility

 

humility-2perfume-bottle-1And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned
that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an
alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she
began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her
head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.
Luke 7:37-38

humility-2Last week I shared this scripture from Luke 7 focusing upon the brokenness of the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus. This week we will continue to look at the same scripture while thinking about the humility of the once sinful woman. In order for the woman to be able to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair, she had to have her head near His feet. She had to bow down with her face to the ground. To me, this woman’s actions and lowly position reflect humility.

Wikipedia describes humility as an act or posture of lowering oneself in relation to others. Humility involves having a clear perspective and respect for one‘s situation or relationship. Specifically in a spiritual context, this can mean a recognition of self in relation to God. The woman in Luke 7 certainly emulates this description. She experienced brokenness because of her former lifestyle and then she humbly accepted forgiveness for her sins and desired a new relationship with Jesus. James 4:6 states, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”  I believe that Jesus found pleasure in both the presence and the actions of this woman at His feet. He experienced the fragrance of humility exuding from her.

perfume-bottle-1With the fragrance of humility in mind, I want to think about the perfume with which the woman anointed Jesus’ feet. The costly perfume poured out from the vile represented the woman’s life savings. She was willing to give her all in gratitude to the Man who had forgiven her sins. At one point in her life she may have been proud, but now she was humble because she had been broken free from her former sinful life. Most likely the fragrance of this scented oil was myrrh. It is interesting to note that the myrrh seed has a hard shell that must be crushed before its pleasing aroma can be emitted. The existence of the perfume used by this woman was evident by its aroma. The reality of the brokenness of this woman was manifested by her humility. The fragrance of the oil would have been noticed not only by Jesus but by everyone in the room. However, I believe that the humbleness of this woman was more pleasing to the Lord than the aroma of the perfume. There is a sacred fragrance to humbleness that is transmitted through a person’s life in a unique way. C. S. Lewis has said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” Lewis’ quote describes the character of this woman and it is a character trait I want to assimilate in my life!

Now let’s relate a couple more scriptures with the story in Luke 7 as we continue our study about humility. Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Another scripture in II Corinthians 2:15 says, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” Is humility an attitude we simply choose to put on when we get dressed in the morning? Is it a scented oil we dab behind our ears like a spritz of perfume? Definitely not! Philippians 2:3 exhorts, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” If we are to emit the fragrance of humility to those around us, we must not only follow the example of the woman in Luke 7 but we must also follow the example of Christ described in Philippians 2:6-8, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Specifically in verse 7, we notice Jesus being in the humble position of a servant. The New American Standard Bible uses the words, “He emptied himself.” This reminds me of the woman emptying, or pouring out, the perfume from her alabaster vial upon the feet of Jesus in Luke 7. It also reminds me that I need to be emptied, or forgiven, of my sins. All these efforts reflect humility in action and they have a pleasing aroma to Christ

My Reader, humility is costly but it is worth the price. James 4:8 exhorts us to “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” This is what transpired for the woman who was forgiven of her sins. Proverbs 27:9 says, “Oil and perfume make the heart glad.” Join me in discovering the joy of the Lord by humbly approaching the throne of grace and experiencing a fragrant fellowship that can only be found at the feet of Jesus. There is a special fragrance found only in humility.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Broken for a Purpose

 

humility-2perfume-bottle-1And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned
that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an
alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she
began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her
head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.
Luke 7:37-38

broken-alabaster-jarbroken-heartBefore this woman could anoint Jesus’ feet with her perfume, the vial or jar that contained the perfume had to be broken. However, the alabaster jar was not the only thing that was broken in this scriptural story. This woman experienced a broken heart when she realized her sinfulness. Then in gratitude for the forgiveness offered to her by Jesus, she chose to break the vile of perfume and anoint the feet of Jesus. The cost most likely was her life’s savings, yet it saved her life for eternity. In a sense, she may have been prophetically and symbolically preparing Jesus’ body for burial. She may have been one of only a few people who truly understood that the total cost of forgiveness was Jesus’ life. Not only did she anoint Jesus feet with perfume, but she also washed His feet with her tears. I believe her tears came from her broken heart. These tears exuded a fragrance as pleasing to Jesus as the aroma of the perfume from the broken bottle. Listen to a couple of scriptures. First, Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Then Paul begins II Corinthians 2:15 saying, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ… We, and the sinful woman, become as fragrant perfume when we are broken of our sinful past.

perfume-bottle-2tears-3The woman’s tears reveal brokenness in two unique ways. First, she was broken because of the remorse she felt for her former life of sin; so she shed tears of sorrow. Next, she cried tears of joy. Although still experiencing brokenness, the woman wept these tears because she realized that she had obtained something she did not deserve. Her tears were mingled with sorrow and gratitude. Psalm 30:5 says, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” I have heard it said that we can only be as happy as we have been sad. The height of our joy is determined by the depth of our sorrow. Psalm 56:8 NLT says, “You have collected all my tears in your bottle.” This is amazing to me! The Lord keeps all my tears in a bottle similar to the perfume vial. Personal tears are just as precious to the Lord as costly perfume. May we be aware of the progression of tears beginning as tears of sorrow followed by tears of joy. While one is not possible before the other, both are kept in a bottle by the Lord.

towel-6IMGP4739The woman’s brokenness is further revealed by her wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair. First, she washed His feet with her tears and then she dried them with her hair, not a towel. She gave of herself; she did not just use something handed to her by someone else. She served Jesus by giving of herself. In a sense, her actions were a prophetic portrayal of how Jesus would later wash the feet of His disciples. John 13:4-5 states, “so He got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had wrapped around Him.” After washing their feet, Jesus explained why He had done this by saying in John 13:15-17, I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” Whether it be through actions by the woman or by Jesus, the message is clear that we are to be servants. Again there a progression that is significant for this woman. Restating, first she had to express tears of remorse before she could experience tears of joy. Then her tears of joy led to her desire to serve others. After she had experienced the love of Christ, she wanted to share that love with others around her.

My Reader, we are still called to apply God’s Word to our lives.
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Broken hearts and broken vials of perfume
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Tears of sorrow and tears of joy retained in God’s blessed bottle
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Towels as tokens of ourselves expressing our willingness to be servants
All of these are significant scriptural symbols of our willingness to be broken for a purpose – for God’s purpose. Each of us must have a broken heart before we can serve with our whole heart.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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