Ask Pastor Roger Barrier - Church Leadership

Why It's So Important to Appreciate Loved Ones While You Can

Why It's So Important to Appreciate Loved Ones While You Can

Dear Roger,

My family is tired of the “shelter in place” COVID-19 quarantine guidelines. My kids are driving me crazy! I’ve read articles and suggestions on what to do until it’s safe to go out. We’ve tried all those things. Is there something you might suggest that maybe you have heard or read about that might help?

Sincerely, Leslie

Dear Leslie,

Yes, I have a suggestion of something special that we might do during the stay-at-home quarantine...and after it’s over.

Now is a great time to appreciate those we love while they are still alive and can enjoy it!

Join me to look at one of the most beautiful acts of love in the Bible. It’s in a devotional form, so that you can work through it with your family—even your kids. It doesn’t get any better than the night that Mary poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ head and washed his feet with her hair.

You may already know the story of Mary washing Jesus’ feet. I’ve studied it from multiple angles and learned different lessons every time. Take a few minutes to read the following Scripture passages; Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:1-9; John 12:1-8.

First, let’s refresh our minds about Mary kneeling at Jesus’ feet and draw some lessons from her actions.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus had several places that He loved to visit, places where He could step aside in quiet solitude, sheltered by love and devotion of a family.

These opportunities grew more precious as He neared the end of His earthly ministry. For example, He spent the last six nights of his life at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany, on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives.

During the evening meal, Mary hurried up to Jesus with a bottle of very costly, rare perfume, and began to wash His feet with it. This was an act of overwhelming love and appreciation.

Her actions provoked a quick discussion.

Two thoughts were expressed. One was articulated by Jesus. He saw an act of pure love and worship.

The other, evidently led by Judas, saw in her act a waste of money.

By the way, this is quite an insight into the personality of Judas. Do you see what he has become? Mary’s was a magnificent, beautiful act of appreciation, and all he could think of was how much it cost.

Don’t miss this lesson: “A soul is on the verge of spiritual paralysis when everything is evaluated in terms of dollars.”

Judas and his crowd said, “This perfume could’ve been sold, and the money given to the poor.” Judas didn’t care about the poor; as the disciples’ treasurer, he wanted the money. Wouldn’t the orphans and widows be an awful position if they had to depend upon Judas and his crowd?

After all, Jesus had done for Judas, his heart was empty of appreciation and gratitude. He couldn’t see past his greed to his Savior. So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She has done well. What she’s done will be spoken of her until I come again!”

What was Mary doing? She was anointing His body for burial while Jesus was still alive and could enjoy it.

By the way, forget about the disciples. Mary was the only one who knew Jesus well enough to understand that the cross was just around the corner.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/eric1513

Second, Mary did what she did because she understood that the timing was right.

Are you one of those people who always seem to do the right thing at the wrong time? Or, the wrong thing at the right time? Or, are you good at doing the right thing at the right time?

If she were to do anything, Mary needed to do it now. She sensed that just over the hill was the cross. It was time to act.

Love is sensitive enough to know when the time is just right.

Perhaps, you have a friend who knows just the right time to call or send flowers. Something about them just seems to be wired properly. You answer the phone or get a text and it’s that friend! “Wow, did I need to speak to you!”

Judas and his crowd were out there getting ready for the betrayal. He already had in his pocket the payoff to betray Jesus.

No wonder Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She anoints my body for burial.” Mary timed her gift just right.

We read of the other women who came to the tomb on Sunday morning to do what Mary had already done. They were too late. 

Third, she did what she did because her motives were pure. 

The important thing was not so much what she did but why she did it. She was expressing appreciation while expecting nothing in return!

In our age of ethical ambiguity, it seems that everyone’s motives are suspect.

Have you ever wondered about someone’s motives? Have you ever wondered why they gave you a gift? Maybe it’s a gift that seems strange? Perhaps, a compliment that just doesn’t sound right? Maybe they’re just trading out. You gave to them something nice out the goodness of your heart. Now they feel obligated to do something back for you?

So, we wonder about someone’s motives.

Then, we wonder about our motives. What are our motives behind what we say and do?

Mary’s motives were clear—Jesus spelled them out.

cup of love with hearts rising from it overflowPhoto Credit: ©GettyImages/BrianAJackson

Fourth, Mary did what she did because she loved him.

Love always expresses itself.

Mary loved Jesus. She had to do something about it. Mary lived in a culture where women were not allowed in the same room as men. She didn’t care. She just had to get to Jesus. Again, real love always expresses itself.

The best part of love’s expression comes from something engineered deep inside our own fervent souls. It can come from no one else! No one can say it for us.

What she did would not be worth half as much had Peter or John said, “Mary, I don’t have enough perfume left to finish anointing Him. Please get some for me.” Mary’s love, real and true, came only from her own heart and was expressed only by her.

According to custom, this perfume was probably her retirement fund. “Three hundred pence” may sounds like little, but a Roman penny was a day’s wages.

If Jesus were to be anointed by Mary, why use that precious perfume which comes from the Ganges River in India? There was plenty of oil on the Mount of Olives and in the bazaars of Jerusalem.

That’s the beauty of love. It gives the best of the best.

Why do we wait to tell others how much we love them?

We go to a funeral and see the casket of one of our friends or loved one who has passed on.

I hear the pastor stand and say, “Oh, how much he meant to us all.”

I sometimes wonder, “Pastor, did you ever tell him that while he was alive and could enjoy it?”

Flowers are stretched from wall to wall. “I wonder if you ever sent him one while he could still enjoy it?”

Personally, I love a rose. I’d rather live to see one than have 10,000 after I’m dead and gone. I have a suspicion that most people are like that.

So, Leslie, I hope that I’ve shared with you something special that you might utilize often.

Here’s a story that I hope you’ll always remember—and put often into practice. Appreciate your family and friends while they’re here. Don’t wait till they’re dead and gone, and it’s too late.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) was a Scottish essayist and historian. In 1826, he married Jane Welsh, his secretary. She soon became sick with cancer and was relegated to bed. Carlyle loved her dearly but seldom found time to stay with her long. He was too busy with his work. The day she was buried was a miserable day. The mud was deep, and the rain came in torrents. Carlyle took it quite hard.

When all was over, he went up to her room, sat next to the bed and thought about how little time he'd spent with her. He wished that he'd done it differently. Then, he noticed her diary on the bed stand. He did not know that she kept one. He picked it up and read: "Yesterday he spent an hour with me, and it was like Heaven; I love him so." Then it dawned upon him how much that he meant to her. But being so busy, he hadn't noticed.

He turned the page and read "I have listened all day to hear his steps in the hall, but now it’s getting late and I guess that he won't be coming today." They found him at the grave site; face in mud, tears rolling down his cheeks; "If only I had known; if only I had known," But, it was too late for Carlyle. She was dead and gone. He made little attempt to write again. He died 15 years later, a sorrowful recluse.

Don't make the same mistake. Appreciate those you love while they're still here to enjoy it.

There are some folks you need to express your love to today—while they are alive and can enjoy it.  Don’t wait until it is too late to tell others that you love them.

Leslie, thanks for the good question. I hope my answer will be of great help.

Love, Roger

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/August de Richelieu

Ask RogerDr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his 35-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.

Editor's Note: This Ask Roger article features insights from Roger's daughter, Brie Barrier Wetherbee, a sought-after Bible teacher and conference speaker, author, analyst, and Christian theologian. 

Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at