In Jon Stople's recent blog post, Finite Disappointment, Infinite Hope Jon told about how he and a group of others had invested a great amount of time and effort into a service project that, instead of simply meeting a need, was uncovering bigger and bigger problems. In the post he makes the statement: "I pray that the actions taken so far would not be a waste of time, energy, and money."
That statement made me think of the following scene in the Bible, where a woman poured a jar of very expensive perfume out on Jesus' feet. It was said that the perfume was worth a year's wages. See below for the disciple's response to actions.
Matthew 26:8-9 (NIV)
When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
The following was my comment on Jon's blog post:
If your goal has been to serve 'the least of these' with the sacrificial love of Christ, being His hands and His feet, then nothing has been wasted. What is a sacrifice after all? What is worship? They took the best lambs and instead of feeding the hungry with them they 'wasted' them by burning them on the altar, just as the woman 'wasted' the expensive perfume by pouring it on Jesus' feet. Nothing poured at Jesus' feet is ever wasted.
Does this mean that we can be can be extravagant and wasteful and excuse it by labeling it worship? No. But it is a reminder that God has a different measuring rod than we do and that He measures the heart behind the action and not the outcome or results. Were you being obedient to the Spirit's direction? Then, no matter the outcome, your actions are not wasted. Jeremiah was told to go and preach to a people whom God told him would not listen. The outcome was not the issue. Jeremiah's obedience was his act of honor towards his God. Jeremiah's preaching was 'wasted' on the initial recipients, but God has continued to use it for His glory and our benefit.
Be careful therefore on how you judge the actions of others or yourself. There is a fine line between those two words and our God is a redemptive God. He can easily turn 'waste' into 'worship.'